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Futures Higher After Retail Sales Report

Futures pointed to a strong open Wednesday, with the Dow ready to make another run at 10,000, after JPMorgan and Intel got earnings season back on track and retail sales fell less than expected.

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  • Retail sales fell 1.5 percent in September, the Commerce Department reported. Sales were hurt by a drop in car sales with the end of the Clunkers program but beat economists' expectations of a 2.1-percent drop. Excluding the volatile auto component, sales rose for a second straiught month.

    This government report came after big chain stores last week beat September sales forecasts, helped by a helped by a late Labor Day and delayed back-to-school shopping. Plus, a cool September helped several retailers that are more impacted by weather.

    In the morning's other economy news, import prices rose 0.1 percent in Septemer as the price of imported petroleum fell. Economists had expected a 0.2-percent increase.

    JPMorgan shares rose after the Wall Street giant crushed earnings expectations, delivering 82 cents a share — analysts had expected 52 cents a share.

    This came on the heels of Intel's earnings beat after the bell yesterday — the chip maker also delivered more bullish forecast than expected.

    Dow Transportation component CSX also beat consensus on its latest earnings report.

    "Third-quarter results are on the whole better-than-expected in general, and it's taken some people by surprise," Anthony Conroy, head trader for BNY ConvergEX, told Reuters. "Now, you're starting to see not only decent earnings but a little bit of growth."

    Crude oil rose for a fifth straight day, heading toward $75 a barrel as commodities continue to benefit from US dollar weakness.

    The dollar tumbled to its lowest level in more than a year against the euro, hurt by persistent expectations for low U.S. interest rates as well as investor appetite for commodity currencies.

    The Federal Reserve's minutes from its meeting of Sept. 22-23 will be released at 2 p.m. with investors looking for signs of the Fed's thinking on the prospects for inflation.

    Due to the Columbus Day holiday, the Energy Information Administration's measure of crude oil inventories will be out at 10:30 am New York time on Thursday.

    Ford reported record third-quarter vehicle sales in China.

    After the bell today, we'll get a report from chipmaker Xilinx .

    Airline stocks are likely to be active as well.

    Barclays revised its rating on a slew of companies in the space, with shares of American Airlines parent AMR jumping more than 4 percent in premarket trading following an upgrade to equal weight from underweight.

    In the news, Bloomberg LPhas reached an agreement to purchase BusinessWeek magazine from McGraw-Hill for an undisclosed amount.

    Royal Bank of Scotlandis reportedly considering the sale of more than 300 of its branches in England and Wales.

    And the Bank of Japan has improved its assessment of the economy, but has kept interest rates near zero and was silent on the issue of exit strategies for its corporate debt-buying programs.

    — Peter Schacknow and Reuters contributed to this report.

    This Week:

    TUESDAY: NABE annual meeting; Bear Stearns execs on trial; Enron's Skilling resentenced; Fed's Kohn and Dudley speak; Treasury budget; Earnings from Johnson & Johnson, Intel
    WEDNESDAY: Allen Stanford court appearance; Weekly mortgage applications; government's report on retail sales; import/export prices; business inventories; Fed minutes; Earnings from Abbott Labs and JPMorgan
    THURSDAY: IRS amnesty for offshore accounts ends; CPI; Empire State manufacturing; weekly jobless claims; Philly Fed; weekly crude inventories; Earnings from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Nokia, IBM and AMD
    FRIDAY: Industrial production; consumer sentiment; Fed's Fisher speaks; Earnings from Bank of America, GE, Halliburton and Mattel

    Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.