Stocks set to open higher on Oracle, RIM

 @ibtimes
on December 18 2009 9:16 AM

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Friday after upbeat results from technology bellwethers Oracle and Research In Motion.

Oracle Corp reported a bigger-than-expected increase in new software sales and said growth could accelerate the current quarter. Oracle gained 5 percent to $24 premarket.

Research In Motion Ltd posted a big jump in profit late Thursday, issued a strong forecast and said it shipped a record-breaking 10 million BlackBerry smartphones. RIM shares were up 11.7 percent to $70.60 in premarket trading.

Rival Palm Inc reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss as competition intensifies to grab consumers shopping for new smartphones. [ID:nN17190567]. Palm shares slid 7.8 percent to $10.80.

Tech news overnight was positive, said Bennett Gaeger, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus in Baltimore. Oracle is a barometer of the corporate spending (that) people are expecting for next year, and RIM adds to the good sentiment.

Amazon.com Inc said Thursday its Kindle electronic book reader broke a monthly sales record in December, as the battle for market share heats up. Shares rose nearly 1 percent to $128.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.8 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 21 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3.5 points.

On a day with little economic news expected, Iraq's deputy interior minister denied reports Friday that Iranian troops had crossed into Iraqi territory and briefly occupied an oilfield.

The Select Sector SPDR Energy ETF , which tracks S&P 500 energy companies, rose 0.7 percent as crude futures jumped 2 percent to $74 a barrel.

Friday marks the expiration of December options and futures, a convergence known as quadruple witching, and often means increased volatility as big investors adjust or exercise derivatives positions.

Nike Inc shares rose 2 percent to $64.50 after the athletic shoe and apparel maker posted second-quarter profit that topped estimates late Thursday and forecast a return to sales growth.

Activist investor Carl Icahn reported taking an 11.3 percent stake in Take Two Interactive Software Inc , and shares of the video game publisher rose 7.6 percent to $8.88.

U.S. stocks fell on Thursday as a rebounding dollar spurred safe-haven trade, cutting demand for riskier assets, and a soft forecast from bellwether FedEx Corp sank transportation shares.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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