The mixed trade came in the wake of Texas, Florida and California reporting record deaths due to the virus as the US struggles to get the outbreak under control while simultaneously getting economic activity back to more normalized levels.
Gilead's remdesivir significantly improved clinical recovery and reduced the risk of death in COVID-19 patients, additional data from a late-stage study showed.
The Canadian dollar held its ground against its USA counterpart, unchanged at 73.60 cents U.S.
Cisco Systems Inc rose 2% as Morgan Stanley upgraded its rating on the network gear maker's stock to "overweight". The S&P 500 and NASDAQ were up 1.7% and 4.0% in that time period.
BioNTech's CEO also told The Wall Street Journal the company's coronavirus vaccine candidate could be ready for approval by December.
Tech companies such as Amazon and Netflix have been big winners in the market, benefitting from the shift towards home-bound consumption during the coronavirus crisis. American Airlines flew 6.8% and United popped 8.2%, while Delta traded 5.6% higher.
Carnival Corp jumped after the cruise line operator said it was planning to resume operations in a phased manner and would operate with a smaller fleet on its return.
The rise in financials was underpinned by a swing higher in bank stocks ahead of earnings next week.
Wednesday, the USA recorded more than 60,000 new cases COVID-19 - record in the world daily gains since the emergence of the virus in China at the end of past year.
"If we do see a further deterioration in USA case growth and therefore potentially some form of lockdown, in response some form of asset purchase extension becomes more likely (from the Federal Reserve)", Brooks Macdonald Asset Management's Edward Park said. The country's seven-day average now stands at more than 53,000 cases. The Nasdaq Composite.IXIC was down 43.31 factors, or 0.41%, at 10,504.44.
Among individual shares, Tesla Inc surged 10%, rising for the fifth session as JPMorgan bumped up its price target for the electric carmaker's stock following better-than-expected quarterly deliveries.
Gold prices dropped $1.50 to $1,802.30 U.S.an ounce.