Coca-Cola boosted its quarterly dividend by 10 percent to 28 cents a share from 25.5 cents a share.
Among earnings, Wal-Mart gained after the big-box retailer posted quarterly earnings that topped expectations, but guidance for the first quarter came in shy of estimates as higher gas prices and the payroll tax increase cut into consumer spending. Wal-Mart also said it would raise its fiscal year 2014 dividend by 18 percent to $1.88 share.
Late last week, Wal-Mart shares tumbled after a leaked internal company email, in which an executive said February sales were a "total disaster" so far, due to the payroll-tax increase that kicked in at the beginning of the year.
Meanwhile, discount stores including Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar advanced following Wal-Mart's earnings report.
Chesapeake Energy also rose after the energy company posted earnings that beat Wall Street estimates. The report came a day after the company said an internal investigation of the financial dealings of its outgoing chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, found no "intentional" wrongdoing.
Safeway rallied to lead the S&P 500 gainers after the supermarket chain posted higher profit, despite increasing competition from the likes of Kroger and big-box retailers Wal-Mart and Target.
Tesla Motors plunged after the electric-car manufacturer posted a net loss in the fourth quarter, but said it expects to see a profit in the first quarter of 2013.
Personal computer maker Hewlett-Packard, insurance giant AIG are among major companies scheduled to reports quarterly results after the closing bell.
On the M&A front, Berry Petroleum surged after oil and gas producer Linn Energy said it will purchase the energy company in a deal valued at $4.3 billion including debt.
Also on the economic front, existing home sales edged up to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.92 million, largely in line with expectations, but the supply of homes for sale contracted to the lowest level in more than 13 years, according to the National Association of Realtors. The leading economic index ticked up in January, signaling a steady growth in economic activity ahead, according to the Conference Board.
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And the consumer price index was flat for a second straight month in January due to weak gasoline and food prices, according to the Labor Department.