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In the News: Optimism on Black Friday, BP restructuring and a RIM rally

In the news this morning, Black Friday shoppers seem undeterred by the Fiscal Cliff, Facebook will stop letting users vote on policy changes, BP plans to restructure its oil and gas operations and Research in Motion looks ready to rally. Elsewhere, oil prices have eased a bit as the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip appears to be holding. Tensions from the European debt crisis have also waned a bit after the International Monetary Fund relaxed debt-cutting targets for Greece.

The social network plans to end the practice of allowing users to vote on changes to its privacy policies, but will continue to allow comments on the proposed changes. Facebook (FB) said the change is because voting emphasizes quantity of responses over quality of discussion.

BP plc
The oil giant announced plans to restructure its oil and gas production unit. BP (BP), which recently agreed to a giant settlement with the U.S. government related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, appears to be undoing some of the changes it made in the wake of the spill. Bob Dudley, the company's CEO, will have less day-to-day oversight of the company's operations, allowing him to focus on getting the company growing again. Lamar McKay, who currently leads BP's U.S. operations, will oversee a new Exploration and Production unit. That role was abolished in the wake of the spill.

The retail giant suspended the CFO and other employees of its India operations as it investigates allegations that the unit may have violated U.S. anti-bribery laws. Wal-Mart (WMT) disclosed investigations into bribery allegations against its operations in Brazil, China and India, in addition to previously acknowledged allegations about the company's business in Mexico.
Here in the U.S., there were no reports of serious disruptions from a number of protests organized by workers groups and scheduled to coincide with Black Friday.

Black Friday
Sales figures aren't in yet, but early anecdotal evidence suggests that a continued slow economic recovery and the looming Fiscal Cliff didn't dissuade shoppers from turning out to try to snap up some deals as the holiday shopping season officially gets underway. Big box stores, including Target (TGT) and Wal-Mart have started their sales even earlier this year, forgoing the traditional early Friday start in favor of opening doors on Thursday evening.

Research in Motion
Shares of the original smart phone maker look like ready to rally as U.S. markets reopen after the Thanksgiving holiday. Shares rose in trading in Toronto on a couple of analysts revealed bullish sentiments on the stock ahead of the launch of the long-awaited Blackberry 10.


Bobby Raines

Bobby Raines is the Managing Editor of the Market Intelligence Center. He has degrees in Mass Communications and History from Emory & Henry College. Bobby worked at a mid-sized daily newspaper before making a switch to covering the financial industry full time in the years leading up to the financial crisis. He has been a member of the Fresh Brewed Media team since 2011 and has served as a writer and analyst. You can write to him at braines@marketintelligencecenter.com or follow him on Twitter: @BRatMICenter.