* Retailers in focus on busy Black Friday shopping day
* Greece says IMF relaxes debt-cutting target
* RIM shares surge on new product optimism
* Indexes up: Dow 0.9 pct, S&P 0.9 pct, Nasdaq 1 pct
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Nov 23 Wall Street rose on Friday on
signs of progress in talks about releasing aid to Greece and as
investors bid up retail shares on hopes consumers will scoop up
bargains on Black Friday, which heralds the start of the holiday
U.S. equity market trading will end early at 1:00 pm ET
(1800 GMT) after closing Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
With many investors on holiday, trade volume got off to a slow
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 (ECB) failed earlier this week to agree on how to get the
country's debt down to a sustainable level and will have a third
attempt at resolving the issue on Monday.
"Anything positive out of Europe related to the sovereign
debt ... that can act as a catalyst," said Todd Salamone,
director of research at Schaeffer's Investment Research in
The S&P 500 looked likely to break a two-week losing streak,
having gained more than 3 percent this week so far. Stocks had
tumbled earlier in the month on worries about the impact of tax
and spending changes to take effect from January, but hopes that
politicians will reach a deal to avert the so-called fiscal
cliff helped the market recoup some of those declines this week.
The index also broke back above the 1,400 level, which could
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 112.71
points, or 0.88 percent, to 12,949.60. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index rose 12.34 points, or 0.89 percent, to 1,403.37.
The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 30.32 points, or 1.04
percent, to 2,956.88.
The retail sector rose as investors looked for signs of how
much consumers are spending as stores lured them 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. The National Retail Federation expects
sales during the holiday season to grow 4.1 percent this year.
Shares of electronics retailer Best Buy Co were up
1.6 percent at $11.76, while J C Penney gained 1.6
percent to $17.53.
Big-name technology companies also climbed as investors
added to positions on a day of thin trading.
Microsoft helped lift the Nasdaq, gaining 1.7
percent to $27.41, while Oracle rose 1.2 percent to
"Anyone that was on the sidelines waiting for a pullback
like the one we just had in some of the tech names, they're
looking for any glimpse of strong price action for permission to
enter into those (stocks)," said Salamone.
Research in Motion surged on optimism about its
soon-to-be-launched BlackBerry 10 devices that will vie against
Apple's iPhone and Android-based smartphones. RIM was
up 12 percent at $11.49.