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Futures Higher After String of Heavy Declines

U.S. stock index futures were higher Wednesday following five consecutive days of declines and after Alcoa kicked off the earnings season on an upbeat note.

Alcoa rallied after the aluminum giant topped earnings and revenue estimates. Analysts had been expecting the Dow component to report a miss.

Stocks posted their steepest one-day decline this year in the previous session with the Nasdaq falling 1.83 percent, the S&P 500 losing 1.71 percent and the Dow erasing 1.65 percent.

On the economic front, import prices rose 1.3 percent March, logging its biggest gain in nearly a year, according to the Labor Department. Economists polled by Reuters had expected import prices to rise 0.8 percent last month. February's data was revised to show a 0.1 percent decline instead of the previously reported 0.4 percent increase.

Banks were higher after a handful of upgrades. BofA gained after Guggenheim boosted its rating on the financial giant to "buy" from "neutral." Morgan Stanley also climbed after Evercore Partners raised its price target on the firm to $20.

Among techs, Apple edged higher after Sterne Agee raised its price target on the iPad maker to to $750 from $740. Apple's market cap briefly topped the $600 billion threshold on Tuesday.

Nokia plunged after the Finnish cellphone maker lowered its quarterly outlook for its devices and services divisions, citing "competitive industry dynamics" that affected sales in emerging markets.

Oil giant Chevron said it expects to outperform on earnings in the first quarter, according to its interim report.

Crude inventories for last week will be released by the Energy Department at 10:30 a.m. Inventories rose by 9 million in the prior week.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s monthly budget will be issued at 2 p.m. New York time on Wednesday. Economists polled by Briefing.com forecast a $193 billion deficit, against a $188 billion deficit in February.

Also out at 2 p.m. is the April edition of the Fed’s Beige Book, its region-by-region assessment of the U.S. economy.

Weekly mortgage applications slipped last week as refinancing demand declined, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

European shares were higher, steadying after steep losses on Tuesday on investor concerns about Spain’s ability to control its public finances.

Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India were placed on tsunami watch after a huge 8.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia.

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Kansas City Fed pres speaks, oil inventories, Boston Fed pres speaks, 10-yr note auction, Fed's Beige Book, St. Louis Fed pres speaks, Carnival shareholders meeting
THURSDAY: International trade, jobless claims, PPI, Philadelphia Fed pres speaks, 30-yr bond auction, Minneapolis Fed pres speaks; Earnings from Rite Aid, Google
FRIDAY: CPI, consumer sentiment, Bernanke speaks; Earnings from JPMorgan, Wells Fargo

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