SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks closed higher Wednesday, extending their gains to a second-straight session, with the S&P 500 Index /quotes/zigman/3870025 SPX +1.11% closing above the key 1,300 level for the first time since late July. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/zigman/627449 DJIA +0.78% rose 96.88 points for the session, or 0.8%, to close at 12,578.95. Stocks rose “due to positive earnings, relatively good economic data and the absence of bad news in euro-land,” said Keith Springer, president of Springer Financial Advisors and author of Facing Goliath. “We’ve been following the play book of the last few years where we flutter right before earnings season and then rally during. Expect a pullback once earnings are done.” The S&P 500 added 14.37 points, or 1.1%, to end at 1,308.04, its first close above 1,300 since July 28. The Nasdaq Composite /quotes/zigman/123127 COMP +1.53% tacked on 41.63 points, or 1.5%, to close at 2,769.71.