U.S. stocks edged higher at the open on Wednesday after a report showed private employers cut fewer jobs in February, adding to optimism ahead of a critical employment report later in the week.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 21.39 points, or 0.21 percent, to 10,427.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 1.98 points, or 0.18 percent, to 1,120.29. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 3.74 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,284.53.

The ADP Employment report showed U.S. private employers shed 20,000 jobs in February, matching the consensus estimate in a Reuters survey, and fewer than the 60,000 jobs cut in January.