Stocks: 4 things to know before the open

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Stocks were poised to start trading slightly higher Friday as investors returned from the holiday break.

Here are the 4 things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

1. Futures firm: U.S. stock futures were pointing to a positive open though a quiet session was expected to close out the shortened trading week.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average inched higher to notch its second straight finish above 18,000. The S&P 500 closed relatively flat, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.2%.

There are no major earnings due out Friday and no economic updates either.

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2. Oil rebounds: Crude oil ticked up in electronic trading Friday to trade above $56 a barrel. Oil prices have suffered sharp falls this year as a combination of abundant supplies, a strong U.S. dollar and weaker demand from Europe and Asia deterred buyers.

Related: Saudi Arabia: We'll never cut production

3. Ruble stabilizes: Russia's battered currency regained some poise Friday following a series of interventions by the government and central bank this week to halt a worsening financial crisis.

Related: CNNMoney's Tech30

4. International markets overview: Most markets in Europe and Asia remained closed for holidays. Chinese stocks were the standout in Asia, with the Shangahi Composite rallying 2.8%.

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