Also on Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 393,000 last week. It was the second straight drop after Superstorm Sandy drove applications higher earlier this month.
Perhaps putting a drag on the market, retailers posted some lackluster comparable store sales numbers.
Target, The Gap, and others fell short of Wall Street expectations.
Shares of target slid almost three percent after it reported same-store sales fell 1 percent, when most had expected growth of more than 2 percent.
It's a critical time for retailers, who log a huge chunk of yearly profits in the weeks running up to the holidays.