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) -- U.S. stock futures suggested Wall Street would open with slight gains on Friday as oil prices crossed $108 a barrel.

European shares were up slightly, while Asian stocks finished with gains. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.5% to close at 9,647.38.

In the U.S. on Thursday, stocks closed up as data showed surprising resilience in German business confidence and as U.S. jobless claims remained flat.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 46.1 points, 0.4%, to 12,984.8. The

S&P 500

rose 5.8 points, or 0.4%, to 1363.5. The


finished higher by 23.8 points, or 0.8%, at 2957.

Benchmark crude for April delivery jumped 66 cents to $108.49 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It has increased for seven straight days as tension over Iran's nuclear program escalates threatening supply, and on signs of an improving U.S. economy.

The economic calendar Friday in the U.S. features the final read on consumer sentiment for February from the University of Michigan at 9:55 a.m. EST, and new-home sales for January at 10 a.m.


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was sued in California by the Chinese company that claims it owns the iPad name.

Proview Electronics

filed a lawsuit against Apple's use of the trademark in mainland China. Proview accuses Apple of employing deception when buying the trademark.


, the world's second-largest automaker, said Friday that earnings in 2011 more than doubled as revenue rose almost 26% to €159.3 billion.

Volkswagen earned €15.41 billion ($20.5 billion) in 2011, up from €6.84 billion the previous year.

Operating profit rose 58% to €11.27 billion, below the average estimate of €11.36 billion in a



J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get J. C. Penney Company, Inc. Report

, the department store giant, is expected by analysts Friday to earn 68 cents a share on revenue of $5.5 billion.

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Newmont Corporation Report

is seen posting profit of $1.27 a share on revenue of $2.74 billion.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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