Intel and Yahoo are scheduled to report on Tuesday. Other early morning quarterly reports included Johnson & Johnson, which closed up more than 1.5 percent after reporting earnings that beat, while revenue matched forecasts. The firm also raised its full-year forecast.
UnitedHealth reported earnings that beat on both the top and bottom line, and raised its full-year forecast. The stock closed up 2.1 percent and was the second-top contributor to gains in the Dow.
In other corporate news, FBR rated the newly formed Liberty Media tracking stocks Liberty SiriusXM, Liberty Media as "outperform," noting both stocks are trading a "meaningful discounts" to their "sum-of-the-parts" values. Shares were nearly 6.8 percent in the close.
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In economic news, housing starts fell a more-than-expected 8.8 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.09 million units, the lowest level since October, according to Reuters, citing the Commerce Department. Building permits dropped 7.7 percent to a 1.09 million-unit rate last month, the lowest level since March last year.
Treasury yields traded higher, with the 2-year yield at 0.76 percent and the 10-year yield near 1.79 percent.
The U.S. dollar index was about 0.4 percent lower, with the euro near $1.136 and the yen at 109.18 yen against the greenback.
Gold futures settled $19.30 higher, at $1,254.30 an ounce, after earlier hitting its highest since April 13.
Late Monday, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren reiterated in a Reuters report that the Federal Reserve is set hike interest rates more rapidly than priced into futures markets, which see only one modest rate hike in each of the next few years.
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The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 49.44 points, or 0.27 percent, at 18,053.60, with Goldman Sachs leading advancers and IBM the greatest decliner.
The S&P 500 closed up 6.46 points, or 0.31 percent, at 2,100.80, with materials leading eight sectors higher and consumer discretionary and information technology the only decliners.
The Nasdaq composite closed down 19.69 points, or 0.40 percent, at 4,940.33.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, held steady just above 13. Earlier, the VIX fell below 13 to its lowest since Oct. 28.
About seven stocks advanced for every three decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 885 million and a composite volume of 3.8 billion in the close.
—CNBC's Peter Schacknow and Reuters contributed to this report