Futures Higher; Earnings Season in Focus

Stock index futures rose ahead of the open Friday in what is expected to be another low volume session before earnings season kicks off in earnest with Alcoa's release after the market closes on Monday.

The brighter tone to stocks comes a day after a volatile sessiontriggered by news of a second earthquake in Japan on Thursday. The earthquake wasn't as bad as initially feared, and stocks largely recovered by the end of the session, with the Dow falling just 17 points.

About a third of the economists, fund managers and strategists who responded to a CNBC Fed surveyexpect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year, twice as many who thought that would be the case last month.

Investors also have an eye on budget negotiations in Washington D.C., where the President Obama and the U.S. Congress have yet to reach an agreement.

President Obama said that late on Thursday “differences still remain” between the two sides of the budget negotiations and there were still “a few difficult issues “outstanding adding he was “not prepared to announce wild optimism."

The government will effectively close down at midnight if President Obama and Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, cannot come to an agreement over the size of the Federal Budget.

Toyota announced Friday morning it would resume production at its plants in Japan, bringing some relief for the automaker, although the company will resume at half capacity. And shares of Tokyo Electric Power gained after Mizuho Securities reiterated its "outperform" rating on the operator of a crippled nuclear plant and doubled its price target for the stock.

Expedia soared after news it would spin-off TripAdvisor into a separate publicly-traded company.

Seagate Technology also jumped a day after reinstating its dividend and revising upward its forecast for fiscal third-quarter revenue and margins.

The week is expected to end on a fairly quiet note with U.S. wholesale data the only expected announcement Friday. The data is expected to show wholesale inventories up by 1 percent when it is published at 10 a.m., a Briefing.com poll found.

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