Meanwhile, the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers met in Moscow to discuss fears of competitive currency devaluations. (Read More: What Currency War? Move Along, G-20 Leaders Say)
Angel Gurria, secretary general for the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) dismissed concerns about competitive currency devaluations, which originally came into focus when Japan's new leadership launched a program of aggressive monetary stimulus, causing the yen to plummet.
"There is no currency war. We are furthest away today from a currency war than we were two or three years ago," Gurria told CNBC. "We are fighting an old war. Today we should be concentrating on productivity, be concentrating on competitiveness and we are being distracted by this currency discussion."
Among earnings, Campbell Soup posted earnings that topped expectations, thanks to its recent acquisition of Bolthouse Farms.
Kraft Foods Group declined after the company said it anticipated below-consensus earnings for the fourth quarter, though it raised its full-year outlook for 2013.
Widely-followed investor Carl Icahn said in a regulatory filing that he bought 14 million shares of Herbalife, giving him a 12.98 percent stake in the firm. Icahn discussed his long position on CNBC, saying he was taking the long position to make money, regardless of his personal feelings about Pershing Square's Bill Ackman. Icahn's big bet comes almost three weeks after he and activist investor Ackman engaged in an epic verbal battle on CNBC. Herbalife shares moved off their early highs following Icahn's appearance. (Read More: Icahn vs. Ackman: Is It Business or Personal?)
MeadWestvaco jumped to lead the S&P 500 gainers after billionaire investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management now owns 1.6 million shares in the packaging company.
Xoom skyrocketed nearly 60 percent in the online money-transfer company's first day as a publicly traded firm. The stock opened at $21.
On the economic front, consumer sentiment improved to 76.3 in February, marking the best level since November, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's index. Economists surveyed by Reuters expected a reading of 74.8. And manufacturing in New York state unexpectedly jumped to 10.0 from -7.8 in February, according to the New York Federal Reserve, gaining for the first time since July. Economists expected a reading of -2.0.
Meanwhile, industrial production unexpectedly slipped 0.1 percent in January, according to the Federal Reserve, dragged by weak manufacturing and mining, Economists surveyed by Reuters expected a gain of 0.2 percent.
This week was marked with a flurry of M&A deals. Berkshire Hathaway agreed to buy ketchup maker Heinz, bankrupt American Arilines parent AMR merged with US Airways to form the world's largest airline company, and cable giant Comcast took full control of NBCUniversal from General Electric.
So far, more than $158 billion in deals have been announced in 2013, pointing to healthy valuations and positive bets on the economic outlook.