Stock index futures rose on Wednesday as continued strong earnings, including from Apple Inc , underscored the growing sense that companies were faring well despite the recent soft patch in the economy.

* Equities have struggled against a number of headwinds recently, including concerns about sovereign debt problems in the United States and Europe, but on Tuesday posted their best day since March, helped by strong results from such bellwethers as International Business Machines Corp and Coca-Cola .

* Tech giant Apple late Tuesday posted third-quarter revenue that was far above expectations, helped by blockbuster sales of its iPhone, as well as its Asian business. The stock gained 4.5 percent to $393.80 in premarket trading.

* Yahoo Inc late Tuesday reported a slight decline in net revenue in the second quarter, as efforts to restructure its sales force caused disruptions that crimped revenue.

* Earnings will continue to be in focus, with American Express Co and Intel Corp among the many set to report on Wednesday.

* Among the early reporting companies on Wednesday were Textron Inc , which reported a second-quarter profit that beat expectations, and United Technologies Inc , which raised its full-year profit view.

* Investors will also be looking for June existing home sales data, due at 10:00 EDT, which are seen rising from the previous month. On Tuesday, housing starts that were much stronger than expected contributed to the market's positive tone.

* S&P 500 futures rose 7.5 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 62 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 23 points.

* Ecolab Co said it would buy Nalco Holding Co for $5.4 billion.

* The growing optimism over earnings season comes as market participants also had more confidence with the ongoing talks for a debt deal in the U.S. Markets gained momentum late in the day on Tuesday after President Barack Obama suggested progress was being made toward a $3.75 trillion deficit reduction deal centered around entitlement reform.

* The White House and Congress need an agreement that includes an increase in the federal debt ceiling by August 2 or the United States could default on its debt.

* Obama's comments, along with the earnings, sparked a sharp equity rally on Tuesday, with all indexes rising more than 1.6 percent and the Nasdaq climbing more than 2 percent.

(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)