Stocks rose in thin trade on Wednesday as retailers' earnings and a report showing a slight improvement in private employment increased optimism ahead of Friday's payrolls report.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 44.05 points, or 0.41 percent, to end unofficially at 10,680.43. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 6.78 points, or 0.61 percent, to finish unofficially at 1,127.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> advanced 20.05 points, or 0.88 percent, to close unofficially at 2,303.57.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Jan Paschal)