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BP Stock Pops After White House Meeting

BP stock stages a turnaround Wednesday after company executives sit down with the President and announce that BP won't pay a dividend in 2010.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- BP (BP) - Get Report stock staged something of a turnaround Wednesday afternoon after company chieftains concluded their much-anticipated tete-a-tete with President Obama at the White House.

During a press briefing on the South Lawn of the White House, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said the company wouldn't distribute a divided this year, instead using that projected $10.5 billion partly to bankroll a

$20 billion cleanup/damages escrow account

that, under pressure from the White House, BP agreed to establish earlier Wednesday. The announcement may have cleared the air of at least some of the uncertainty that has plagued shares of the U.K. petroleum giant since the Deepwater Horizon blew up on April 20.

Investors may also have breathed a sigh of relief in response to Obama's words after the meeting, when he essentially said that the government wasn't out to bankrupt BP.

"I am confident BP can meet its liability," the President said. "BP is a strong and viable company and it is in all of our interest that it remains so. This is about accountability."

Obama also spoke of BP's financial strength in order to refute fears that the government wanted to pound BP into a position of weakness. An enfeebled BP unable to pay out claims would, after all, hurt Gulf residents affected by the spill.

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BP's stock was trading around the $31 mark until roughly 2:38 p.m. ET, about the time that BP's chairman made his remarks. The stock promptly shot higher. At about 50 minutes before the closing bell, BP shares were changing hands at $32.72, up 4.2% from the previous close.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.