Rally Set to Continue After Intel Results

U.S. stock index futures were higher ahead of the open Wednesday, thanks in part to better-than-expected earnings from Intel, suggesting the major averages could extend their winning streak to a seventh consecutive session.

The world's biggest maker of computer chips also gave an upbeat estimate for sales as it swung to a profit for its second quarter. Shares of Intel were sharply higher in pre-market trading.

European shares struggled to find direction as weak banks offset gains in the tech sector. Asian stocks closed higher with tech names rallying on the back of Intel's strong earnings.

On the economic front, June retail sales declined for the second monthin a row, dropping 0.5 for the month, after a slump of 1.1 percent in May. Excluding autos, the sales slipped 0.1 percent. Import and export prices also decline, with import prices falling a surprisingly large 1.3 percent in June, the largest decline since January 2009.

At 10 am, business inventory data for May are released with economists expecting a decline of 0.2 percent. April saw a decline of 0.4 percent.

Also on the economic agenda, the Federal Open Market Committee will released the minutes from its last rate-setting meeting, which could give clues on the Fed's economic outlook and future decisions on interest rates.

The number of weekly mortgage applications fell o a 13-year low despite record low mortgage rates.

Meanwhile, the Gulf oil spill continues as BPdelayed its latest bid to stem the flow of oil from its leaking well. Shares of BP were lower in London trading, but closed slightly higher in New York trading Tuesday.

On the earnings front, ASML Holding will report numbers ahead of the opening bell and Marriottis expected to report after the bell.