US stocks advanced slightly in early trade on Wednesday after government data showed that US economic activity grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the third quarter.

The S&P 500 Index gained 1.79 points, or 0.14 percent, to trade at 1,256.39 at 9:50 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 7.37 points, or 0.06 percent, to trade at 11,540.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.15 percent.

The Commerce Department reported that real Gross Domestic Product, the broadest measure of economic activity, rose at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2010, slightly higher than the 2.5 percent rate projected last month and against analysts’ estimation of 2.7 percent. In the second quarter, the economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is due to report the sales of previously occupied homes at 10:00 am EDT. Economists are forecasting that existing home sales in November may rise to 4.75 million against 4.43 million in October.

Shares of Nike plunged 4.80 percent despite better-than-expected quarterly earnings as CEO Mark Parker warned of margin pressure in the quarters ahead as input costs rise. The company’s second-quarter net profit rose to $457 million, or $0.94 per share, up from $375 million or $0.76 per share in the same period a year ago.

Walgreen shares surged 7.36 percent as the company’s first-quarter net income rose to $580 million, or $0.62 per share, up from $489 million or $0.49 per share in the same quarter a year earlier. Sales rose 6 percent to $17.3 billion.

On Tuesday, US stocks rose moderately, boosted by some M&A activity and an easing of hostilities in Korea, with the Dow Jones index reaching a 28-month high and the Nasdaq at a three-year high, albeit in light pre-holiday trading.

The euro declined 0.07 percent to 1.3092 against the dollar the yen gained 0.29 percent against the greenback.

Crude oil futures advanced 0.50 percent to $90.27/barrel ahead of inventory data and gold futures advanced 0.06 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading mixed with FTSE 100 up by 20.26 points, DAX30 down by 0.1202 points and CAC 40 down by 0.72 points.