BP’s Settlement, Wal-Mart’s Earnings, and Some Big Acquisitions: Afternoon Buzzers

United States stock futures are mixed on Thursday afternoon, after closing over a percent down across the board on Wednesday. With talk of the fiscal cliff thick in the air, weak jobs numbers could help turn early market gains into losses by the end of the day, continuing a trend that started on Tuesday. Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims for the week ending November 10 came in at 439,000, an increase of 78,000 from the previous week.

British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) is expected to plead guilty and pay between $3 billion and $5 billion to the U.S. Department of Justice to settle criminal charges associated with the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. The settlement would be by far the largest criminal penalty ever imposed on a corporation by the DoJ.

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Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) are trading about 3.63 percent down after reporting third-quarter results. Net sales grew 3.4 percent from the quarter a year ago to $113.2 billion. Earnings grew 11.3 percent from the quarter a year ago to $1.08 per diluted share. The company has been cutting prices, which hurts earnings, as it moves into what it expects to be a competitive holiday season. Fourth-quarter guidance came in soft between $1.53 and $1.58 per diluted share.

Coming off declining retail sales for October, Target (NYSE:TGT) posts third-quarter results that beat Wall Street’s expectations. Revenue rose 3.2 percent to $16.93 billion from the quarter a year ago, while net income rose a whopping 14.8 percent over the same period to $0.96 per share. Shares came up about 2.30 percent in the afternoon.

Hertz (NYSE:HTZ) will reportedly gain approval to acquire Dollar Thrifty (NYSE:DTG) for $2.6 billion as early as Friday, after conceding to closing more locations at airports than previously offered.

Rounding out its media empire, News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS)(NASDAQ:NWSA) is expressing interest in acquiring a minority stake in YES, the New York regional sports network that airs Yankees games. The network is valued at about $3 billion.

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