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GM Shares Stall as Labor Deadline Looms

The automaker has taken the lead role in talks with the UAW.
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Investors weren't willing to make any more big bets on

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

Friday as Detroit's labor contract talks entered a critical juncture.

After a big rallly Thursday, GM's stock recently was flat at $33.29 amid news that the United Auto Workers union chose the auto giant as the lead negotiator in the talks.

Leading the talks is considered a positive move for GM because it makes it easier for the company to push its plan for a union-controlled trust -- called a voluntary employees' beneficiary association, or VEBA -- that will allow it significantly cut its health care obligations.

A report that the UAW is willing to consider a VEBA sent shares of GM soaring 10% on Thursday.

GM, though, has until midnight Friday to reach a deal or ask for an extension, or it will face a union strike. Detroit's other big automakers,

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Ford

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and

Chrysler

, have received extensions of their contracts, according to the

Associated Press

.

If the sides agree on establishing a trust, the Big Three are expected to cut $95 billion from their retiree costs. They would make large one-time payments to fund trust.

In return, they would be freed from the liabilities that have increased their borrowing costs and weighed on their ability to compete with low-cost, foreign-based competitors that have been stealing market share from domestic manufacturers in North America.