Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Tuesday, with the, and the up 0.2-0.4 percent, as investors await U.S. housing data.

European stocks rose by mid morning on Tuesday, gaining ground for the fourth straight session, propelled by surging banking stocks with the <.FTSE>, <.GDAXI> and the <.FCHI> up 1-2.1 percent.

Home Depot is expected to report first-quarter earnings per share at 28 cents compared with 41 cents a year ago.

Analog Devices is reporting second-quarter numbers. Analysts expect the company to report earnings per share at 9 cents compared with 44 cents at year ago.

Hewlett-Packard is reporting second-quarter numbers with analysts expecting the company to report earnings per share at 86 cents compared with 87 cents a year ago.

Medtronic is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings per share at 83 cents compared with 78 cents a year ago.

At 8:30 a.m. EDT the Commerce Department releases housing starts and permits for April. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast housing starts to increase to a 520,000 annualized rate from 510,000 in March, and permits to rise to 530,000 compared with 516,000 the prior month.

The Redbook releases its Retail Sales Index of department and chain store sales for the week ended May 16 versus April at 8:55 a.m. EDT. In the prior period, sales rose 0.1 percent.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Treasury has preliminarily granted BlackRock a coveted second-round interview to become one of a few money managers to buy toxic assets from U.S. banks, using taxpayer money.

The New York Times reported that Ford Motor Co. said it will not match big dealer cuts made by General Motors and Chrysler, and expects to benefit from the elimination of nearly 2,000 competing showrooms.

U.S. stocks rallied on Monday as better-than-expected results from the No. 2 U.S. home improvement retailer, Lowe's Cos Inc , helped spark broad-based buying on hopes the recession is easing and consumer spending is stabilizing.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 2.85 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 3 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> advanced 3.1 percent.

(Reporting by Joanne Frearson; Editing by Erica Billingham)