Shares of Wells Fargo & Co., which fell 0.6 percent to $51.49, were in the spotlight as the biggest U.S. mortgage lender was the first major U.S. bank to report earnings.
Wells Fargo's results will be followed next week by earnings from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.
Next week's flurry of earnings will include reports from Google and Intel.
"This market is predicated on economic data, but above all else, it's on what companies are telling us. We need to hear from companies to give credence to whether or not the economy is gaining momentum versus losing traction," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial, based in Newark, New Jersey.
Internet names ranked among the day's biggest gainers, with shares of Amazon.com Inc up 5.6 percent at $346.20, and eBay Inc up 2.3 percent at $51.50.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 28.74 points or 0.17 percent, to end at 16,943.81. The S&P 500 gained 2.89 points or 0.15 percent, to 1,967.57. The Nasdaq Composite added 19.29 points or 0.44 percent, to 4,415.49.
For the week, the Dow ended down 0.7 percent, the S&P 500 slid 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq tumbled 1.6 percent.
A sharp drop in oil prices slammed energy shares, with U.S. crude futures settling down more than $2 a barrel. Shares of Exxon Mobil were down 0.8 percent at $101.74 and were the biggest drag on the S&P 500. Chevron, down 1.4 percent at $128.47, was the Dow's biggest percentage decliner.
A bright spot was provided by Whirlpool Corp. The stock rose 1.1 percent to $140.76 after the U.S. manufacturer of washers, dryers and other major home appliances agreed to buy a 60 percent stake in its smaller Italian rival Indesit Company SpA for about $1 billion.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,657 to 1,358, for a 1.2-to-1 ratio on the upside. On the Nasdaq, advancers were about even with decliners.
About 4.9 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, below the 5.4 billion average for the month to date, according to data from BATS Global Markets.