US STOCKS-Futures gain ahead of holiday-shortened session

Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:36pm GMT

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* Retailers in focus with Black Friday underway

* Greece says IMF relaxes debt-cutting target

* RIM shares surge 14 pct on new product optimism

* Futures up: Dow 10 pts, S&P 2.3 pts, Nasdaq 8.5 pts

NEW YORK, Nov 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures gained modestly Friday, with the retail sector in focus as the holiday shopping season begins, on a day of abbreviated day on Wall Street following the Thanksgiving holiday.

* Greece said the International Monetary Fund had relaxed its debt-cutting target for the country, suggesting lenders were closer to a deal for a vital aid tranche to be paid. But other sources involved in the talks cautioned the funding gap was far bigger than Greece has suggested.

* Euro zone finance ministers, the IMF and European Central Bank failed earlier this week to agree on how to get the country's debt down to a sustainable level and will have a third try at resolving the issue on Monday.

* Shares of Research in Motion surged more than 14 percent in premarket trading on optimism surrounding the company's soon-to-be-launched BlackBerry 10 devices that will vie against Apple's iPhone and Android-based smartphones. RIM was recently at $11.73.

* The focus will likely be on the retail sector as the holiday shopping season begins. Investors will look for signs of how much consumers are spending as stores lure shoppers in with Black Friday deals and discounts. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, kicks off the U.S. Christmas shopping season for retailers and is often the busiest shopping day of the year.

* S&P 500 futures rose 2.30 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 added 10 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 8.50 points.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve's securities portfolio has not reached a level where it would hold back the central bank from its bond-buying programs, John Williams, the president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

* The Fed launched its latest stimulus program in September, saying it would buy $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities until the labor market significantly improved.

* Overseas, German business morale surprised with its first rise in seven months in November, offering hope that Europe's largest economy could regain some momentum.

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