Friday morning will see the release of September employment data, which should add weight to the case for a interest rate hike sooner rather than later. On the data front Thursday, initial jobless claims fell to 249,000, below the expected 257,000.
"The bottom line remains the same bottom line for a while now. At this point of the economic cycle it is tougher and tougher to find good, qualified employees and thus employers are holding on tight to the ones they currently have. We've also seen that this behavior is not inconsistent with the slowing pace of job hiring's," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group.
In oil markets, U.S. crude settled at $50.44, a four-month high.
—CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.