* Q3 GDP growth at 2 percent
* Chipotle down after Federal probe into E.coli strain
* Brent recovers from 11-year low
* Indexes up: Dow 0.46 pct, S&P 0.34 pct, Nasdaq 0.04 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Dec 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes held on to small gains in early afternoon trading on Tuesday as crude oil prices recovered slightly and data showed that the U.S. economy grew at a fairly healthy clip in the third quarter.
Trading volumes are expected to be relatively light this week, with U.S. stock markets operating a shortened session on Thursday and closing on Friday for Christmas.
Brent crude prices were up marginally, a day after they slid to their lowest levels since mid-2004, but gains were limited due to global oversupply concerns and tepid demand for heating oil in what is likely to be the warmest winter on record.
The S&P energy sector was up 1.58 percent, leading the 10 major sectors on the index. The sector has been the worst performer in 2015, falling about 24 percent so far this year.
Chevron shares were up 1.1 percent at $90.27, while Exxon was up 0.7 percent at $77.74.
“I think the main thing that markets are going to be looking at today is the whole deal with oil,” said Matthew Tuttle, chief executive, Tuttle Tactical Management in Stamford, Connecticut.
The U.S. Commerce Department trimmed third-quarter GDP growth to a 2 percent annual pace from the 2.1 percent estimated earlier.
At 12:23 p.m. ET (1723 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 80.07 points, or 0.46 percent, at 17,331.69, the S&P 500 was up 6.92 points, or 0.34 percent, at 2,028.07 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 0.04 points, or 0 percent, at 4,968.97.
“It feels like there’s not a whole lot going on today in the world of trading,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst, Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
Forrest said energy and materials stocks were most likely higher due to bargain hunting.
Caterpillar was up 4.2 percent and provided the biggest boost to the Dow. The stock has shed more than a fourth of its value this year.
Chipotle Mexican Grill was down 4.4 percent at $499.26 after Federal authorities said they were investigating a new strain of E. coli linked to the burrito chain.
Ford was up 2.7 percent at $14.13 after Automotive News reported that the automaker was in talks with Google to help build self-driving cars.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,917 to 1,039. On the Nasdaq, 1,457 issues fell and 1,252 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed three new 52-week highs and six new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 26 new highs and 48 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)