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Futures Climb; 'Witching' Volatility Expected

Stocks are set to bounce back from the previous session's decline at the start of trading Friday. Buying in Europe helped stocks index futures climb ahead of the opening bell.

But barring a significant rally, Wall Street's major averages are likely to end the week with a mixed-to-lower performance.

Earnings could provide a positive spark this morning, following upbeat after-the-bell reports from Blackberry maker Research In Motion and Oracle. Both beat consensus estimates, as did Nike.

RIM shares jumped 11.5 percent in premarket trading and Oracle rose 4.7 percent.

But Palm shares tumbled 7.7 percent premarket after the smartphone maker posted a loss that was worse than expectations as it faces increasing competition in the crowded field.

Citigroup's secondary offering and a dollar rally were the most significant weights on the stock market during the Thursday session.

But volatility and high volume could well spark wide swings today as Wall Street goes through its final "quadruple witching" day of 2009, with the simultaneous expirations of various options and futures contracts.

Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, saw its quarterly profit of 43 cents a share narrowly beat estimates. But the company narrowed its outlook going forward due to "sluggish" sales trends, and shares dropped about 3 percent after the closing bell Thursday.

Videogame maker Take Two Interactive matched estimates with its latest earnings, but more notable was news that activist investor Carl Icahn has taken an 11.3 percent stake in the company, sending the shares up 3.5 percent in after-hours trading.

A Securities and Exchange Commission filing said Icahn may seek talks with Take Two, but it did not elaborate.

The economic calendar has no release of note today, while this morning's earnings releases include the latest numbers from cruise line operator Carnival , and car dealership chain CarMax .

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

Boeing also could be in focus following news that budget carrier Ryanair has halted discussions to purchase as many as 200 Boeing jets.

Jeweler Zale is also a stock to watch today, after a report in the Wall Street Journal saying that the nation's second-biggest jewelry retailer has canceled some orders with suppliers as debt increases and sales decline.