Economic data continued to come in strong Thursday, with weekly jobless claims holding around their lowest levels in more than 40 years, while the Philadelphia Federal Reserve manufacturing index hit its highest level since January 1984.
"The ebullience speaks for itself as manufacturers will be a main beneficiary of any corporate tax changes. This joins a slew of euphoric sentiment indicators that we've seen for months but the actual rate of economic growth right now for Q1 is still estimated to be around the same 2% we've been stuck in," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, in a note.
Inflation data released earlier this week, along with testimony from Fed Chair Janet Yellen, lifted market expectations for a rate hike in March. According to the CME Group's FedWatch tool, expectations for a March move were at 22 percent.
In corporate news, investors parsed through quarterly results from CBS, Wendy's, Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Marriott, among other firms.
U.S. Treasurys rose on Thursday, with the benchmark 10-year yield falling to 2.45 percent and the short-term two-year note yield holding around 1.21 percent.
The dollar fell 0.5 percent against a basket of currencies, with the euro near $1.065 and the yen around 113.4.
Overseas, European stocks declined, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 index sliding 0.37 percent. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.47 percent while the Shanghai composite advanced 0.52 percent.