U.S. stocks slightly higher in early trade on Wednesday after a government report showed that new orders for manufactured durable goods rose better-than-expected in March.

The S&P 500 Index advanced 0.49 points, or 0.04 percent, to trade at 1,347.66 at 9:50 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 9.50 points, or 0.08 percent, to trade at 12,604.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.14 percent.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in March rose by 2.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted $208.4 billion on stronger demand for transportation equipment, computers and defense-related products. Economists expected a growth of 1.9 percent in March after a 0.7 percent February increase.

Core durable orders, excluding transportation, increased 1.3 percent in March compared to 0.6 percent gain in February and against economists’ expectation of 1.6 percent gain. Excluding defense, new orders increased 2.3 percent.

Investors are likely to stay glued on FOMC meeting and interest rate decision, which is due to be released at 12:30 pm EDT.

The interest rate is expected to remain unchanged at 0.25 percent. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates at historic lows in the range between 0 percent and 0.25 percent in an attempt to increase consumer consumption and business operations by making borrowing cheaper to revive the economy.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a press conference on Wednesday after the Fed’s policy announcement. The key issue is likely to be inflation.

On the corporate front, Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) shares advanced 1.05 percent to $76.34in early trade. The company reported first quarter net income of $0.59 billion or $0.78 per share compared to $0.52 billion or $0.70 per share in the same quarter last year, while analysts’ expected net income of $0.72 per share. The company also reaffirmed its 2011 profit outlook of $3.80 to $4.00 per share on revenue of $68 billion to $71 billion.

Corning Inc. (NYSE:GLW) shares surged 4.47 percent to $21.45. The company reported first quarter net income of $748 million or $0.47 per share compared to $816 million or $0.52 per share in the same quarter last year. Net sales rose to $1.92 billion from $1.55 billion a year ago. Analysts’ expected net income of $0.44 per share and revenue of $1.83 billion.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) shares declined 1.96 percent to $63.68in early trade. The company announced a definitive deal to acquire Synthes, Inc. for 159 Swiss francs per share or $21.3 billion.

US stocks rallied to a multi-year closing high on Tuesday as robust earnings reports and a strong report on consumer confidence buoyed sentiment.

The euro advanced 0.17 percent to 1.4669 against the dollar and the yen declined 0.92 percent against the greenback.

Crude oil futures declined 0.01 percent to $112.20/barrel and gold futures gained 0.55 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading higher with FTSE 100 up by 11.33 points, DAX30 up by 60.99 points and CAC 40 up by 34.00 points.