Amazon.com declined after JPMorgan downgraded the online retail giant to "neutral" from "overweight." Meanwhile, Ebay climbed after Evercore Partners upgraded the online auction site operator to "overweight" from "equal weight."
Etrade tumbled to lead the S&P 500 laggards after the company's largest investor Citadel said it is selling its entire stake in the firm, ending a five-year relationship.
Men's Wearhouse surged after the men's clothing retailer hired Jefferies to evaluate strategic alternatives for its K&G division and authorized a new $200 million stock buyback program, which helped overshadow the firm's weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings.
Samsung is set to unveil its Galaxy S4 smartphone in New York City and analysts speculate that the new version will include an eye-scroll function and feature a bigger screen than the current Galaxy S3.
"Apple's status has been steadily undermined by the flawless execution Samsung has demonstrated in the more frequent iterations of its Galaxy smartphone offering," said David Garrity, principal at GVA Research. "Whether the Galaxy 4S will be the product generation that moves Samsung squarely ahead of Apple as innovation leader remains, but it clearly is a message that Samsung has been aggressively marketing."
Apple shares have continued to tumble in recent months, falling nearly 40 percent from its all-time high of $705 in September. And in the latest blow to the tech giant, research house IDC on Wednesday said shipments of tablets running the Android operating system is expected to top the iPad this year for the first time. Still, Apple edged higher Thursday after BTIG raised its rating on the iPhone maker to "buy" from "neutral."
(Read More: Apple's iPad to Fall Behind Android as Tablet War Grows)
Meanwhile, Google announced it will retire its Google Reader in July, citing declining usage. This follows Wednesday's news that Andy Rubin will step down as head of Google's Android division, and will be replaced by Sundar Pichai.
Also on the economic front, producer prices increased 0.7 percent in February, gaining by the most in five months as gasoline prices spiked, according to the Labor Department. But there was little indication of a broader increase in inflation pressures that could force the Fed to tighten monetary policy.
And current account deficit narrowed to $110.4 billion in the fourth quarter, according to the Commerce Department. Economists had expected the gap to widen to $112.8 billion from a previously reported $107.5 billion for the third quarter.
Treasury prices fell after the government auctioned $13 billion 30-year notes at a high yield of 3.248 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 2.43.