Stocks in the News: BP, Ford, Whirlpool, Hovnanian, AT&T, Hot Topic, AMD

The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:

BP (BP) remains in the news a day after it bungled its latest effort to stem the flow of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, as a diamond-tipped saw got stuck in a thick pipe. The company now plans to use giant shears to slice off the leaking pipe on the sea-bed. The company also agreed to pay $360 million to build six land barriers to protect the Louisiana coast. BP's chief executive said the oil company wasn't prepared to deal with a disastrous oil leak in the Gulf, The Financial Times reported Thursday. The newspaper quoted Tony Hayward as saying it was "an entirely fair criticism" that the company wasn't fully ready. Despite its woes, shares of the company rose more than 3% in trading Wednesday in New York, and stock futures are pointing to a higher open for the stock.

Ford Motor (F) has confirmed speculation that it plans to kill the Mercury brand. The automaker said Wednesday it will cease production of Mercury vehicles in the fourth quarter, freeing resources the automaker will then allocate to its core Ford and upscale Lincoln brands. The news followed an upbeat sales report that showed Ford sales rose 23% in May. Other automakers reported similar results, with the exception of Toyota Motor (TM). The Japanese car maker said its May sales rose just 6.7%, as it sought to contain fallout from numerous recalls to fix safety problems in its vehicles.

Maytag is recalling 1.7 million dishwashers sold under Maytag, Amana, Jenn-Air and other familiar brand names after reports of fires caused by heating elements, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said. The affected appliances were sold nationwide from February 2006 through last April. Whirlpool (WHR) bought Maytag in 2006. Shares of the Michigan-based manufacturer were down 1% in premarket action on Wall Street.

Shares of home-builder Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) rose 3% Wednesday after the company reported a smaller loss than anticipated during its fiscal second quarter. The company said the expiration of the first-time home buyers federal tax credit, which ended April 30, may have pulled some sales forward, noting that the pace of contracts slowed further last month. In extended-hours trading, shares of the Red Bank, N.J.-based company were lower by 2.3%.

AT&T (T) gained nearly 2% Wednesday after the telecommunications giant said its new customers will no longer have the option of unlimited wireless plans when purchasing Apple (AAPL) iPad or iPhone devices or other smart phones, beginning June 7. In doing so, AT&T will become the first major U.S. wireless company to move away from unlimited Internet plans and introduce metered billing.

Youth fashion retailer Hot Topic (HOTT) reported Wednesday that sales at stores open at least a year fell 9% last month, a slightly worse performance than analysts had anticipated. Revenues fell 7.4% to $42.6 million, the company said. A later-than-usual Memorial Day holiday accounted for some of the decline, it said. Shares rose fractionally Wednesday on Wall Street.

Shares of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) gained nearly 5% Wednesday after the computer-chip company unveiled the first processor to emerge from its long-gestating Fusion effort at a trade show in Taiwan on Tuesday. The so-called accelerated processing unit, or APU, combined two existing technologies onto the same chip and also includes video processing and other capabilities.