Stocks took a brighter tone in the last hour of trading as the broader market gained, although banks and tech stocks remained lower.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 15 points after falling more than 100 early in the session, in another choppy, low-volume day.
Coca Cola and Kraft gained, while JPMorgan and Hewlett-Packard slipped.
The S&P 500 rose slightly, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq traded flat to lower. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell to nearly 16.
Among key S&P sectors, energy and consumer staples rose, while financials and techs slipped.
"The bears had their opening in the beginning of the market and didn’t make it happen," said Uri Landesman, president at Platinum Partners. "I think people are afraid to fight the tape here, I don’t think it’s much more than that."
There are also technical factors at play. Landesman said bullish investors realized they could push the market higher when the S&P failed to break lower than 1,283-1,284.
Nonetheless, he said "it's incredible that the markets have been going straight up with everything going on in the world, " and added, "I don’t see how you get an expanding economy with JPMorgan lending less money."
Landesman was referring toJPMorgan's earnings report on Wednesdayshowing a downdraft in consumer lending.
A little more insight into the tech industry could come with Google's earnings release after-the-bell, said J.J. Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade. (Read More: All Eyes on New CEO as Google Reports Earnings)
"Google is not a pure tech play so to speak, but it's the first major component of that industry," he said. "People are looking for something to point to."
Trading could also be affected by the monthly expiration of futures and options on Friday, he said.
"You’ll see some interesting trades today," Kinahan said, including "things that don't make sense."
Oil prices were mixed, moving in relation to a weaker dollar , which fell against a stronger yen. London Brent crude fell 0.42 percent to close at $122.36, while U.S. light crude rose 0.93 percent to close at $108.11. Meanwhile, Gold prices soared more than 1 percent to close at $1,471.70 an ounce.
However, the recent surge in oil prices is not a reason that will spark the Fed to raise interst rates, said Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota and Fed Board Governor Elizabeth Duke.
Financials were among the weakest sectors, a day after JPMorgan released strong earnings that nonetheless disappointed once investors looked more closely at the results. However, some analysts were still positive on the share as at least three brokerages raised their price targets on the firm. Bankof America is scheduled to report earnings before the market opens on Friday.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs fell after a U.S. Senate report on Wall Street's role in the financial crisis published Wednesday accused of misleading clients and manipulating marketsin mortgage-bond deals leading up to the financial crisis. Deutsche Bank , which was also cited in the report, fell too.