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US stock futures retain mild gains after weak economic reports

U.S. stock-index futures held modest gains on Friday after data had export prices falling more than expected and a gauge of manufacturing in the New York region slipping.

Stock futures eased their advance only slightly in the wake of the reports, one of which had prices for U.S. exports unexpectedly falling in October, while the costs of imports into the United States also fell as a result of a steep fall in oil prices. Export prices fell 0.5 percent last month, the Labor Department said.

Another report, the New York manufacturing survey, came in minus 2.2 for November, also below estimates.

Stocks rose on Thursday, lifting the S&P 500 and Dow industrials to record finishes, following dovish remarks from U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen, who is on course to become the central bank's next chairman.

Asian and European equity markets rallied on Friday as investors cheered remarks from Yellen, who is set to replace Ben Bernanke in January, that the U.S.' monetary stimulus program would remain in place for now.

At her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, Janet Yellen said the central bank was not going to reduce its stimulus program anytime soon as she voiced concern about the economy, sluggish job growth and the low inflation rate. Overall, she was viewed as dovish and very much aligned with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Micheal Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, warned Friday that markets should not get carried away in their belief that the "Bernanke "put" would be replaced by the Yellen "put."

"Investors would do well to note that voting members on the FOMC change next year and the committee will have a much less dovish outlook in January than it does now. While the S&P500 may look to test 1,800 in the not too distant future, the outlook for earnings, even in the US, remains uncertain with retail bellwether Wal-Mart warning of a tough holiday season in the lead-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas," he said.

In European news, the tide could be turning against more austerity measures, despite signs of slowing economic growth in the region.

Greece said it will not yield to pressure to impose further austerity measures, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told CNBC late Thursday, responding to the Eurogroup's call for the indebted country to step up reform efforts in order to secure its next tranche of aid.

Meanwhile in Frankfurt, Andreas Dombret, a member of the executive board of Germany's central bank told CNBC that tough austerity reforms by struggling euro zone nations could start to weigh on their economies. He said that "reform fatigue" would be "very, very bad" and "very, very dangerous".



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