Allstate Corp. gained 56 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $41.35 after the company's board of directors approved a plan to buy back up to $1 billion of the insurer's shares by the end of the year.
Eli Lilly also advanced after saying it would buy back its own stock. The drugmaker rose $1.18, or 2.4 percent, to $49.52 after saying that its board had approved a $1.5 billion share buyback.
Apple gained $15.07, or 2.9 percent, to $533.90. Samsung Electronics Co. said it had withdrawn its requests to have sales of certain Apple products banned in Europe, though the company is still suing Apple over the use of certain technology licenses.
Apple has rebounded in the last two days. It closed at its lowest in 10 months Dec. 14 as investors worried that intensifying competition in the smartphone market would erode Apple's profit margins.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed 5 basis points to 1.82 percent. The yield on the note has risen 20 basis points since the start of December.
Among stocks making big moves today;
— Arbitron, a provider of radio ratings, surged $8.99, or 24 percent, to $47.03 after TV ratings company Nielsen said it would buy it for about $1.26 billion.
— FactSet Research Systems Inc., a provider of financial information to investors, fell $4.20, or 4.4 percent, to $92.19 after it reported earnings and revenues that fell short of analysts' estimates.