Meanwhile, rumors swirled earlier in the session that S&P is planning on downgrading the U.S.’s credit rating after the markets close Friday.
Bank stocks were the day's biggest laggards led by losses from the likes of Bank of America and Citigroup . BofAslipped after Wells Fargo cut its rating on the financial giant to "market perform" from "outperform."
Among earnings, Procter & Gamble posted better-than-expected earnings as cost cuts and price increases helped mitigate the impact of more expensive materials.
Priceline surged to lead the S&P 500 gainers after the online travel agency reported a higher profit that beat expectations as strong growth at its overseas markets boosted bookings. At least two brokerages raised their price targets on the firm.
On the economic front, hiring picked up in July as the Labor Department reported employers added 117,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent.
Despite the positive data, some experts remained skeptical.
"Come on! Tell me who these new hires are," said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt Trading. "A number (which still isn't anywhere near normal for a recovery period) surprised like this after the data we received, not to mention the significant layoff announcements we've been hearing about lately, just doesn't seem to add up."
Gold prices surged $20.50 this weekto settle at $1,648.80 an ounce, gaining for a fifth-consecutive week.
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: Employment trends index
TUESDAY: NFIB small biz optimism index, productivity and costs, 3-yr note auction, FOMC mtg announcement; Earnings from Disney
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, wholesale trade, oil inventories, 10-yr note auction, treasury budget; Earnings from Macy's, Cisco
THURSDAY: International trade, jobless claims, 30-yr bond auction, money supply; Earnings from Kohl's, Nordstrom, Nvidia
FRIDAY: Retail sales, consumer sentiment, business inventories; Earnings from JCPenney
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