U.S. stocks closed more than 1.5 percent higher Wednesday, after the release of the Fed minutes, and helped by higher oil prices and some encouraging economic data. The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 posted their first three-day win streak of 2016.
The major U.S. averages had their largest three-day win streak since late August.
"The question is, can we get enough lift to push above 1,940 (on the S&P 500) and if we can, we can have a shot at that 1,970 - 2,000 level. You're going to really need buyers to come into the market. ... Short covering can only take us so far," said Lance Roberts, chief investment strategist at Clarity Financial.
On Wednesday, the S&P also had its third-straight day of plus-1 percent gains since 2011 to end within 10 percent of its 52-week intraday high, out of correction territory. The index ended more than 10 percent below that high Thursday, but held above the psychologically key 1,900 level for a second-straight day.
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The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 40.40 points, or 0.25 percent, at 16,413.43, with Wal-Mart the greatest laggard and IBM leading advancers.
The S&P 500 closed down 8.99 points, or 0.47 percent, at 1,917.83, with energy leading eight sectors lower and utilities and telecommunications the only gainers.
The Nasdaq composite closed down 46.53 points, or 1.03 percent, at 4,487.54.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, held near 21.6.
Advancers were a touch ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of nearly 1.1 billion and a composite volume of 4.4 billion in the close.
Gold futures for April delivery settled up $14.90 at $1,226.30 an ounce.
—Reuters and CNBC's Peter Schacknow and Chris Hayes contributed to this report.