US stocks advanced in early trade on Wednesday as forecast-beating results from Dell and better-than-expected data on the housing market buoyed sentiment.

The S&P 500 Index advanced 4.46 points, or 0.34 percent, to trade at 1,332.72 at 9:45 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 28.46 points, or 0.23 percent, to trade at 12,255.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.41 percent.

Construction of new homes and apartments climbed 14.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000 units in January, from a revised 520,000 in December and against estimation of 550,000 units.
However, new building permits, a measure of future construction, fell sharply by 10.4 percent to 562,000 in January against the revised figure of 627,000 in December.

The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in January. The PPI, which is an inflationary indicator that measures the average change in selling prices received by domestic producers of goods and services, had risen 0.9 percent in December and 0.7 percent in November. The rise in January marks the seventh straight rise in finished goods prices.

On the corporate front, shares of Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) surged 5.28 percent as its fourth quarter earnings topped the Street view. Adjusted profit was $1.02 billion or 53 cents a share, higher than $544 million or 28 cents a share last year. Revenue rose to $15.69 billion from $14.90 billion. Analysts had expected profit of 37 cents a share on revenue of $15.72 billion.

Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE:FDO) shares climbed 25.93 percent after the company confirmed that it has received an unsolicited conditional proposal from billionaire investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Group to acquire FDO at a price in the range of $55 to $60 per share in cash.

Deere & Co. (NYSE:DE) shares gained 3.47 percent after the company said its first quarter net income more than doubled to $513.7 million or $1.20 per share from $243.2 million or $0.57 per share in the same period last year. The company expects net income of $2.5 billion for the fiscal 2011 against its previous prediction of $2.1 billion.

The euro declined 0.01 percent to 1.3485 against the dollar and the yen declined 0.17 percent against the greenback.

Crude oil futures advanced 0.83 percent to $85.02/barrel and gold futures rose 0.18 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading higher with FTSE 100 up by 32.21 points, DAX30 up by 9.60 points and CAC 40 up by 34.08 points.