U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday as data showed private-sector job creation while acquisition activity lifted sentiment.

Private employers created 201,000 jobs in March, according to ADP Employer Services, a rise that was in line with expectations.

The report by the payrolls processor is closely watched for insight into the health of the labor market, although it has little correlation with the government's broader non-farm payrolls report due on Friday.

Numbers like the ADP report is what we need for the market to break out of its current range. Hopefully it continues on Friday, said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc, an investment advisory firm, based in Toledo, Ohio.

In the latest of a string of large M&A moves, Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International on Tuesday made an unsolicited bid to buy Cephalon Inc for $5.7 billion, sending the stock up 28 percent to $75.21 while U.S.-listed shares of Valeant rose 12 percent to $49.55.

M&A activity has been very consistent over a broad array of sectors with incredible premiums, and that's one of the biggest catalysts for the market's rebound, Lancz said.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 54.91 points, or 0.45 percent, at 12,333.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 6.21 points, or 0.47 percent, at 1,325.65. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 10.73 points, or 0.39 percent, at 2,767.62.

Gains may be limited by uncertainties over Japan's nuclear power situation and civil unrest in oil-producing regions. Trading volume has been weak, with Monday and Tuesday posting the lowest and second lowest days of the year, respectively, suggesting shaky investor confidence before the quarter ends.

The S&P is currently up 4.9 percent in the first quarter, based on Tuesday's close.

Family Dollar Stores Inc reported second-quarter earnings that rose from the prior year and were at the high end of the company's forecast, which it recently raised. The stock rose 0.3 percent to $53.57 after rallying before the open.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)