Stocks in the news: General Motors, Prudential Financial, J.C. Penney

The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

General Motors (GM) is near a deal to cut its hourly labor costs by more than $1 billion a year and reduce its $20 billion pledge to cover health-care obligations, according to the Wall Street Journal. It also sent out termination notices to 1,100 U.S. dealers as the automaker starts shrinking its retail network.

Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU), Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG), Allstate Corp. (ALL), Principal Financial Group Inc. (PFG), Ameriprise Financial Inc. (AMP) and Lincoln National Corp. (LNC) are six insurers cleared to access U.S. aid through TARP funds as the government moves to shore up an industry battered by investment losses. Shares jumped in pre-market trade -- PRU: 7 percent, HIG: 15 percent, ALL: 2.6 percent, PFG: 6.5 percent, LNC: 12.6 percent.