Stocks rose to fresh 32-month highs on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 double the level it was two years ago as Dell earnings and deal announcements appealed to investors.
Concern about tensions between Israel and Iran weighed on the market in late morning trading, but indexes slowly climbed back near the session's highs.
Still, volume was only slightly better than earlier in the week and could struggle to match the year's average of near 8 billion shares traded per day on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq.
Dell Inc , the world's No. 2 personal computer maker after Hewlett-Packard, flew past Wall Street's profit and margins estimates late on Tuesday, and its shares jumped 13.4 percent to $15.78.
It seems that there's just a lot of pent-up demand, and the market is very quick to shrug off news that could appear negative, said Angel Mata, managing director of listed equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus in Baltimore.
Two Iranian warships planned to sail through the Suez canal en route to Syria on Wednesday, an Israeli official said, calling it a provocation by the Islamic Republic.
The pullback following the comments was another opportunity for money on the sidelines to get back into stocks, Mata said.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> added 63.95 points, or 0.52 percent, to 12,290.59. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 7.97 points, or 0.60 percent, to 1,335.98. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 22.10 points, or 0.79 percent, to 2,826.45.
The benchmark S&P 500 earlier broke above 1,333.58, double the intraday low hit in early March 2009, and was trading just below that level after midday.
French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SA agreed to buy Genzyme Corp for $20.1 billion in cash. Genzyme shares rose 1.4 percent to $75.32.
In another proposed deal, 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 soared 21.7 percent to $53.50.
Trian's bid for Family Dollar helped shares of other discount retailers. Dollar Tree Inc was up 2.9 percent to $52.42 while Dollar General Corp rose 12.1 percent to $30.20.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)