U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday as data showed private employers added jobs in a sign of economic improvement and acquisition activity lifted sentiment.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 42.08 points, or 0.34 percent, to 12,321.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 5.67 points, or 0.43 percent, to 1,325.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 16.07 points, or 0.58 percent, to 2,772.96.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)