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US stocks target record yearly gains

U.S. stock index futures signaled an anemic open early on Friday, with Asian and European shares trading higher after the Dow Jones Industrial Average's record close on Thursday.

(Read more: 10-year yield at 3 percent? Not a problem for stocks)

Friday will be a quiet day for both quarterly earnings and economic data. Weekly natural gas inventories will be published at 10:30 a.m. ET, following by crude oil inventories at 11:00 a.m.

Retail stocks will remain in focus on Friday as the holiday shopping season continues. Shares of Amazon.com, United Parcel Service and FedEx may be worth watching, having gained on Thursday after the package-delivery companies said they were overwhelmed by volume and the online retailer offered to refund shipping charges.

Stocks in companies including Time Warner and Viacom will also be of interest, following the Christmas debuts of blockbusters such as the second Hobbit film, "Anchorman 2", Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and Keanu Reeves' "47 Ronin".

In addition, U.S. mining stocks may gain after copper prices hit four-month highs on Friday. Anglo-Australian majors Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton both rose in consequence.

The Dow closed higher for a sixth consecutive session on Thursday, and is on track for its best yearly gain since 1996, assuming it remains above 16,422. This followed data showing that fewer American than expected filed applications for jobless benefits last week, in an upbeat sign for the labor market.

The S&P 500 also hit a record high on Thursday and the Nasdaq Composite ended at its highest level since September, 2000.

Earlier on Friday, China's benchmark Shanghai Composite rebounded as bargain-hunting offset weak corporate data. Industrial profits in November rose an annual 9.7 percent, slower than October's 15.1 percent gain. Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar hit a record low against the yuan after the People's Bank of China fixed the currency's mid-point at its highest level since the 2005 landmark revalaution.

(Read more: Track Asian stocks live with CNBC)

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato

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