"The uptrend in global manufacturing confidence, apparent since April, looks set to have continued up to August, and even could intensify, based on today's 'flash' PMI data for August," Julian Callow, a London-based economist at Barclays, wrote in a report.

The positive global manufacturing headlines were offsetting a rise in weekly initial jobless claims in the U.S.. Initial jobless claims increased by 13,000 to a greater-than-expected 336,000 in the week ended Aug. 17 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 323,000. Economists, on average, were expecting jobless claims of 330,000. However, the four-week moving average that irons out week-to-week volatility came in at 330,500, a decrease of 2,250.

The report also said continuing claims for the week ended Aug. 10 increased by 29,000 to 2.999 million, vs. the average estimate of 2.96 million.

In company news, GameStop ( GME) was the top climber in the S&P, surging 9% to $51.91 after the leading video game products retailer hiked its full-year earnings per share guidance to a range of $3 to $3.20 from the previous estimate of $2.90 to $3.15 based on positive trends in new console pre-orders.

Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF) was the worst percentage performer on the S&P after posting weak second-quarter earnings and lowering its outlook for the rest of 2013. The company forecast diluted earnings of 40 to 45 cents a share. Wall Street has estimated $1.06 a share. Shares plummeted 17.7% to $38.53

Wells Fargo ( WFC) is set to eliminate 2,300 jobs in mortgage production, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The bank is cutting the jobs because demand for refinancings has slumped and probably will drop even more as interest rates rise, Bloomberg noted. Shares added 0.28% to $42.48

In more economic news, house prices rose 7.2% in the second quarter from the same time last year, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The FHFA's seasonally adjusted monthly house price index for June was up 0.7% from May. Price increases are expected to lose steam though as borrowing costs continue to rise.

Also, the Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.6% in July to 96, following no change in June. Economists were expecting a 0.5% gain.

The annual meeting of central bank officials in Jackson Hole, Wyo., began Thursday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other major world central bank heads were not expected to attend the meeting.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was little changed, yielding 2.896%.

December gold futures rose 70 cents to settle at $1,370.80 an ounce and October crude oil futures closed up $1.18 at $105.03 a barrel.

-- Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.>

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