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US agency gives RIM a second chance, tests latest BlackBerry

TORONTO -- A U.S. federal agency that has been phasing out the BlackBerry in favor of the iPhone said on Thursday it would test Research In Motion's new BB10 smartphones, fueling a fresh spurt in RIM's shares ahead of the new line's launch.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will begin a pilot program early next year to test the new line and the software to manage them on its network.

The news, which sent RIM shares up more than 6 percent on Thursday morning, extends a weeks-long rally that has pushed the stock to its highest close in more than seven months.

Investors have warmed to the stock — which had lost about 75 percent of its value in the last two years — on evidence that the make-or-break BB10 line is gaining traction with RIM's bread-and-butter customers in the weeks before its Jan. 30 launch.

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