Stocks advanced on Wednesday, lifted by Intel's strong results, but weaker-than-expected June retail sales limited gains.

If the trend holds through the closing bell, stocks' winning streak will stretch to seven trading days.

Intel Corp reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and revenue late on Tuesday, allaying fears about weakness in tech spending. The stock, a Dow component, rose 3.5 percent to $21.75.

But the reality check came from retail sales, which fell for a second straight month on weakness in autos and gasoline. Investors closely watch retail sales data for insight into consumer spending as worries about the economic recovery's pace have hurt the stock market in recent weeks.

The consumer can be very fickle and very subject to short-term fears, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York. It continues to be corporations ... that are driving the economic recovery.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 21.11 points, or 0.20 percent, at 10,384.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 2.50 points, or 0.23 percent, at 1,097.84. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 16.63 points, or 0.74 percent, at 2,258.66.

Chipmakers led the technology sector, with Nvidia Corp up 1.6 percent at $11.09, and Advanced Micro Devices gaining 1.1 percent to $7.60. Qualcomm Inc shot up 2.9 percent to $36.99.

An S&P index of retail stocks <.RLX> slipped 0.5 percent. The Commerce Department reported that U.S. retailers' June sales declined 0.5 percent. That was more than twice the 0.2 percent drop forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

Bank stocks largely fell on renewed concerns about European banks' stress test results. The KBW Bank Index <.BKX> fell 1.6 percent.

Investors are also looking ahead to the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's June meeting, which will be released at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT). On June 23, at the end of its two-day meeting, the Fed renewed its pledge to keep benchmark interest rates near zero for an extended period and noted pockets of weakness in the economy.

In the M&A sector, another potential deal caught investors' attention. The Wall Street Journal reported that Nokia Siemens Networks is in talks to buy the telecom-equipment arm of Motorola Inc in a transaction that could be worth $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion. Motorola shares gained 4 percent to $7.50, while the U.S.-listed shares of Nokia Corp were up 0.5 percent at $8.60.

Financial reform is also on Wall Street's mind. U.S. Senate Democrats on Tuesday appeared to nail down the votes needed to approve a historic overhaul of U.S. financial regulations and set up a final vote by the end of the week.

Fast-food chain operator Yum Brands Inc gave a full-year profit outlook late on Tuesday that was below expectations. At midday, the stock was down 0.47 of a point at $41.03.

(Reporting by Matthew Lynley; Editing by Jan Paschal)