Microsoft advanced after the software giant announced a long-awaited restructuring. As part of the reorganization, Microsoft announced the president of its Microsoft Office division, Kurt DelBene, will be retiring.
(Read More: Cramer: Microsoft Is Undervalued Right Now)
Nokia rose after the Finnish cellphone maker introduced the Lumia 1020, a smartphone with a 41-megapixel camera, in an effort to catch up with rivals Samsung Electronics and Apple.
On the economic front, weekly jobless claims rose by 16,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, according to the Labor Department, above expectations for a reading of 340,000. The four-week moving average of new claims increased by a more modest 6,000 to 351,750.
Meanwhile, import and export prices declined for the fourth-straight month in June, according to the Labor Department.
Gasoline prices are forecast to jump between 10 and 20 cents per gallon within the next few days, driven by rising oil prices and peak driving season. Oil prices have risen in recent weeks on geopolitical concerns, along with declining inventories.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite rose above the key 2,000 level for a second straight session on hopes that Wednesday's dismal trade data will lead the Chinese central bank to ease monetary policy in an effort to boost growth.
(Poll: Will China Experience a 'Hard Landing' in 2013?)
Meanwhile, the yen strengthened further against the dollar on Thursday after the Bank of Japan held its monetary policy steady, but upgraded the country's economic outlook.
(Read More: JPMorgan Says It's Still Not Sold on Japan)