48.38 points, or 0.38 percent, to end at 12,836.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX added 3.22 points, or 0.23 percent, to finish at 1,391.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC rose 9.87 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 2,926.55.
St Jude Medical (STJ.N) shares tumbled 12.2 percent to $31.37 after an inspection report from health regulators raised new safety concerns about one of the company's leads that are used with implantable defibrillators, analysts said.
A modest gain in International Business Machines (IBM.N) helped the Dow outperform the other indexes. IBM rose 0.6 percent to $190.29.
Dow component Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) climbed 2 percent to close on Wednesday at $11.94, recouping a small slice of Tuesday's loss, when the stock slid to a 10-year low after the computer and printer maker reported a $5 billion charge related to "accounting improprieties" at Autonomy, a British software company that HP bought last year. At least two brokerages have cut their ratings on HP's stock, while analysts at several firms lowered their price targets.
Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N) jumped 8.8 percent to $158.78 a day after the business software provider reported results that beat Wall Street's expectations for the third quarter and maintained its outlook for the rest of the year.
But Deere & Co (DE.N) dragged on the S&P 500 after the world's largest farm equipment maker reported a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit. Its stock lost 3.7 percent to $82.83.
The market did not derive much direction from the day's economic data, with initial jobless claims falling last week, as expected.
Other data showed manufacturing picked up at its quickest pace in five months in November, while the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading for November showed the consumer sentiment index improved only slightly from the previous month.
The focus will likely turn to retailers on Friday as analysts try to assess how strong the holiday shopping season will be this year, according to Kurt Brunner, portfolio manager at Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia.
The S&P 500 retail sector index .SPXRT was up 0.6 percent.
Holiday shopping traditionally kicks off the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, as stores offer deals and discounts to lure consumers.
Advancers beat decliners by a ratio of about 2 to 1 on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq.