File – In this Dec.14, 2010 file photo, trader Gregory Rowe, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo, file)
NEW YORK (AP) — Major stock indexes rose slightly Wednesday after a report showed that the U.S. economy grew faster than previously thought over the summer.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday the country’s gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 2.6 percent between July and September, a small increase from its earlier estimate of 2.5 percent. Analysts had expected the number to rise to 2.8 percent.
“Some folks will look at 2.6 percent as a disappointment, but the market is taking a look at the bigger picture,” said Phil Orlando, the chief stock market strategist at Federated Investors. Many traders expect the economy to grow by 3 percent or more during the fourth quarter and through 2011, he said.
Separately, the National Association of Realtors said sales of previously-occupied homes rose 5.6 percent in November to an annual rate of 4.68 million. That was slightly below analysts’ estimates of 4.75 million, according to data provided by FactSet.
“The home sales numbers are significantly off the highs that we saw in the go-go years earlier this decade, but 5 million home sales a year is good enough to keep prices from falling,” said Paul Zemsky, the head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management.
In midday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.76 points, or 0.1 percent, to 11,544.92. The SP 500 rose 3.23, or 0.3 percent, to 1,257.83. The Nasdaq composite index gained 3.76, or 0.1 percent, to 2,671.35.
Bank of America Corp. led the 30 stocks that make up the Dow index. It gained 3.2 percent to $13.40. Intel Corp. had the largest fall. The technology company lost 1 percent to trade at $20.89.
Before the market opened, Walgreen Co. reported revenue and earnings that beat analyst estimates. The country’s largest drugstore chain said its income rose 18.8 percent. The stock rose 6.4 percent to $39.17.
Late Tuesday, Nike Inc. said it planned to raise some of its prices because of higher costs for cotton and shipping. Revenue and earnings per share were better than analysts had forecast. Nike fell 5.6 percent to $87.18.
December is shaping up to be a good month for stocks. The SP 500 has risen 6.5 percent this month and the Dow has gained 4.9 percent. On Tuesday, the SP 500 closed above the level it reached on Sept. 12, 2008, the last trading day before the collapse of Lehman Brothers at the height of the financial crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at its highest since Aug. 29, 2008.
Bond prices fell slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.33 from 3.30 late Tuesday.
The dollar was unchanged against an index of six heavily traded currencies.