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Premarket: Stocks find their feet; RIM plunges

European stock markets stabilized as the political and economic crisis in Greece showed signs of moving toward resolution.

Wall Street took heart from the firmer tone, with Dow futures rising 0.5 per cent to 11,958 and S&P 500 futures gaining 0.5 per cent to 1,270.30.

France's CAC 40 gained 0.6 per cent, while Germany's DAX rose 0.4 per cent. Britain's FTSE 100 was little changed.

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One dramatic loser, however, was Research in Motion Ltd. Its shares sank 15 per cent in trading in Frankfurt and in pre-market trading on the Nasdaq. After North American markets closed Thursday, the maker of the BlackBerry slashed its profit and sales forecasts and indicated that job cuts lay ahead.

The Canadian dollar recovered some ground against the U.S. dollar, trading at $1.0206 (U.S.).

The euro held steady around $1.4150 after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou replaced his finance minister in a broad cabinet reshuffle to counter widespread anger over tough new austerity measures.

The position, held by George Papaconstantinou since the debt crisis began in late 2009, will be taken over by Evangelos Venizelos, a Socialist heavyweight. Government portfolios were also redistributed to address demands for faster reform from Greece's debt monitors at the European Union and International Monetary Fund. A new ministry for administrative reform was created to help scale back the country's bloated public sector.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also signaled a willingness to compromise on demands that bondholders substantially share in any Greek rescue. She and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that a "voluntary" extension of maturities of Greek government bonds held by private investors should be part of the solution.

Benchmark oil for July delivery was down $1.61 to $93.34 a barrel.

Copper steadied, trading at $9,075 a tonne. It was on course for a weekly gain of about 2 per cent but was still more than 10 per cent down from the record high of $10,190 per tonne hit on Feb. 15.

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Gold edged lower to $1,525 an ounce. Down 0.4 percent on the week, it is heading for its second consecutive weekly drop.

Asian markets closed lower, with the Nikkei losing 0.6 per cent and the Hang Seng sliding 1.2 per cent.

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