The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:
Shares of BP (BP) fell another 3% in London after tumbling 13% Tuesday, following news that the Obama administration was beginning a criminal probe into the Gulf of Mexico oil-drilling disaster. Investors remain skittish about the impact of the spill on BP's finances and reputation. In announcing the investigation into the actions by BP and its affiliates, Attorney General Eric Holder said those involved in the oil spill will be closely examined. "If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our response," Holder said. In New York, shares of BP fell 15% Tuesday, rebounding about 1.5% in premarket action this morning.
Automakers, including General Motors, Ford Motor (F), Toyota Motor (TM) and others will report May vehicle sales Wednesday. Analysts expect sales overall to be better than in May of last year, when the country was mired in recession. Edmunds.com expects Ford, Chrysler Group, Hyundai Motor and Honda Motor (HMC) to post gains of 22% to 28% above last year's sales. Still, last month's volatility on Wall Street is expected to have affected sales to some degree, forcing some consumers to the sidelines until stock prices stabilized.
Shares of Ford were up slightly in premarket action, a day after federal auto safety regulators said they were beginning an investigation into whether floor mats can cause unintended acceleration in 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans by trapping gas pedals. Some 5.4 million Toyota vehicles in the U.S. have been recalled for a similar problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has received three complaints about the problem, all from drivers who placed optional rubber floor mats on top of existing carpeted mats. The automaker has advised consumers not to stack floor mats in any vehicle.
U.K. insurer Prudential (PUK) said Wednesday it is walking away from a $35.5 billion offer to take over American International Group's (AIG) Asian life insurance unit after failing to negotiate a lower price for the deal. Prudential agreed to buy AIA for $35.5 billion (£24.6 billion) in March. Last week, however, it asked for the price to be cut to near $30 billion after shareholders opposed the pact. On Tuesday, AIG said it wouldn't consider any revision to terms of the deal. Prudential shares were higher by 6% in London trading, while AIG stock slipped nearly 3% in premarket action on Wall Street.
Shares of Hershey (HSY) rose 2.6% Tuesday after the company said it plans to cut 600 jobs in a move to modernize its operations. Hershey spokesman Kirk Saville said the move is necessary for the chocolate giant to remain competitive.
Amgen (AMGN) said after trading ended Tuesday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its osteoporosis drug known as Prolia nearly two months sooner than anticipated. The drug, which strengthens bones and inhibits bone decay in postmenopausal women, was approved by European Union regulators last week.
Russian oil-giant Lukoil reported its net profit in the first quarter more than doubled to $2.05 billion, up from $905 billion in the year-ago quarter. The privately held company, which is 20% owned by ConocoPhillips (COP), credited higher crude prices for the gain, but said rising transportation costs and taxes weighed on profits.
Home-builder Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) is expected to report a fiscal second-quarter loss of 68 cents a share, a survey of analysts by Zacks.com shows.
Shares of Tenet Healthcare (THC) sank Tuesday on reports the Texas company is in preliminary talks to acquire Healthscope, an Australian hospital group, for $1.6 billion.
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