U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday after estimate-beating results from technology bellwether Dell and a deal for Sanofi-Aventis to buy Genzyme for $20.1 billion in cash.

French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SA agreed to buy Genzyme Corp for a sweetened $74 a share as merger and acquisition activity continued to bring fresh cash into the market. Its shares rose 1.5 percent to $75.43.

Activist investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Group offered to acquire Family Dollar Stores Inc for $55 to $60 per share in cash, giving the company an implied value of $7.6 billion. Family Dollar advanced nearly 25 percent to $54.80.

The overall climate has been buoyed by the fact that there's credit available to do deals, said Kevin Caron, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey. Private equity coffers are very full, and that money is looking to be put out and invested.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 28.76 points, or 0.24 percent, to 12,255.40. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 4.20 points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,332.21. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 10.27 points, or 0.37 percent, to 2,814.62.

Dell Inc , the world's No. 2 personal computer maker, flew past profit and margins expectations in the latest show of strength from corporate America that has helped lift stocks. Its shares jumped 7 percent at $14.88.

Trian's bid for Family Dollar helped shares of other discount retailers. Dollar Tree Inc rose 7.6 percent to $54.83 while Dollar General Corp rose 13 percent to

U.S. stocks slipped off 2-1/2-year highs on Tuesday as U.S. retail sales data cast doubts on a rebound in consumer spending, a vital part of the economic recovery.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)