Government employees began to return to work after a 17-day government shutdown. Concern about a possible government default was also set aside, at least temporarily, as a deal was struck in Washington to extend the government's credit through Feb. 7.
Stocks turned higher, but blue-chip firm Goldman Sachs reported revenues down at 22 percent from the second quarter to the third and down 20 percent from the third quarter of 2012.
IBM also reported a disappointing third quarter with sales of services down and software flat, Forbes reported.
Sales overall fell 4 percent to $23.7 billion, IBM reported.
Both companies are components of the Dow Jones industrial average, which dropped 2.18 points or 0.01 percent to 15,371.65 Thursday.
The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 11.61 or 0.67 percent to 1,733.15 and the Nasdaq added 23.71 points or 0.62 percent to 3,863.1.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,569 issues advanced while 527 declined on volume to 3.4 billion shares traded.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo closed up 0.83 percent to 14,586.51. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong shed 0.57 percent to 23,094.88. The Shanghai composite index in China lost 0.21 percent to 2,188.54.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 in London added 0.07 percent to 6,576.16. The German DAX lost 0.38 percent to 8,811.98 and the French CAC 40 dropped 0.1 percent to 4,239.64.
On currency markets, the euro fell to $1.3675 and the dollar fell 97.91 yen. On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold added $37.60 or 2.9 percent to $1,319.90 per troy ounce while silver gained 52 cents to $21.885.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, corn for December delivery gained 1/4 cents to $4.43 per bushel. November contract soybeans added 15 3/4 cents to $12.92 1/4. Wheat for December added 4 1/4 cents to $6.85 3/4.