Stock futures rise ahead of a batch of economic releases.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages were rising Wednesday as the markets awaited a batch of economic releases.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were advancing 46 points, or 53.82 points above fair value, at 12,763. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 5.70 points, or 5.57 points above fair value, at 1376. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising 16 points, or 16.49 points above fair value, at 2576.

"With the majority of earnings reports in (approximately 70% better than expected) and the elections complete the equity markets are searching hard for direction and the fiscal cliff is clearly the major concern of the moment and the main driver," said Mike Boyle, senior vice president, Asset Management of Advisors Asset Management . "Given this we would look for the S&P 500 to tack between 1350 and 1430 through year-end as the fiscal cliff negotiations heat up, but we fully expect the cliff to be averted and the S&P 500 to post a double digit return for 2012 and again in 2013."

U.S. stocks finished lower Tuesday as investors piled out of the technology, energy and financial sectors in the final hour of trading.

At 8:30 a.m. EST, the Census Bureau is expected by economists to report that retail sales fell 0.2% in October after increasing by 1.1% in September.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales are forecast to have increased 0.2% after rising 1.1% in September.

"Our analysis has found that retail sales tend to be depressed in the month during which hurricanes make landfall," said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist, and Carl Riccadonna, senior U.S. economist, at Deutsche Bank. "This is one reason why we expect headline retail sales to be lackluster as big-ticket discretionary items such as motor vehicles were negatively impacted. Of course, spending on consumer staples such as food and other hurricane preparatory items should get a temporary boost. This is why we expect to see a modest gain in core October retail sales."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to report, also at 8:30 a.m., that the producer price index rose 0.2% in October after advancing by 1.1% in September.

Excluding food and energy, levels are predicted to have risen 0.1%, after being flat in September.

At 10 a.m., the Census Bureau is forecast to say that business inventories increased 0.5% in September after rising 0.6% in August.

At 2 p.m., the minutes from the latest two-day Fed policy meeting, which ended Oct. 24, will be released.

The FTSE 100 in London was sliding 0.65%, while the DAX in Germany was off 0.43% on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei average settled up 0.04% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed higher by 1.20%.

Gold for December delivery was off $1.80 to $1,723 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while December crude oil contracts were up 21 cents at $85.59.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 6/32, lifting the yield to 1.618%. The dollar was down 0.05%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

In corporate news, Cisco(:CSCO), the networking giant and Dow component, topped Wall Street's expectations in its latest quarter on both the top and bottom lines.

AMD(:AMD) denied Tuesday that it's on the block following a report that the No. 2 chipmaker could be be up for sale.

Staples(:SPLS) posted third-quarter revenue that missed forecasts, driven by tepid sales in Europe and Australia. The office supply chain's earnings per share came in at 46 cents on revenue of $6.35 ; analysts expected earnings of 45 cents a share in the October-ended period on revenue of $6.45 billion.

Williams-Sonoma(:WSM) is expected by analysts Wednesday to post third-quarter earnings of 45 cents a share on revenue of $921.8 million.

Abercrombie & Fitch(:ANF) is expected to post third-quarter earnings Wednesday of 58 cents a share.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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