U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, as a private employment report did little to shake up expectations for Friday's payrolls data while investors positioned themselves for the quarter's end.

The U.S. labor market showed signs of further recovery in March, as private-sector employers added jobs and planned layoffs fell, according to data released on Wednesday.

While the report may not hold predictive value for the government's broader non-farm payrolls report due on Friday, the reading was largely in line with expectations and failed to alarm investors.

At 200,000 or so, that number is not enough to excite the market one way or the other -- if it indeed happens to be the number for payrolls on Friday, said John Canally, and economist for LPL Financial in Boston.

You need well below that to get people worried about a double-dip (recession) and well above that to get people too worried that the Fed is going to tighten.

Stocks also advanced as investors re-allocated positions for the end of the quarter, with the S&P 500 up 5.5 percent.

They are selling commodities, they are moving back into industrials -- you've got a mini-market rotation coming into your final couple of days of the quarter, and that is the way the window dressing takes place. It's also how the pre-positioning takes place for the start of the quarter, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

The PHLX Oil Service sector <.OSX>. up 8.8 percent since March 10, shed 0.4 percent on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 73.42 points, or 0.60 percent, to 12,352.43. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 8.67 points, or 0.66 percent, to 1,328.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 15.24 points, or 0.55 percent, to 2,772.12.

Investors also were eyeing the 1,330 level as a possible resistance point for stocks, with the benchmark S&P unable to hold gains above that mark in its three previous attempts.

In the latest on the M&A front, Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International on Tuesday made an unsolicited bid to buy Cephalon Inc for $5.7 billion, driving Cephalon's stock up 28.1 percent to $75.25 while Valeant's U.S.-listed shares shot up 10.4 percent to $49.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)