There will be no deal Friday between Halliburton ( HAL) and the thousands of individuals who've filed asbestos-related claims against the big oil-services company. Speculation was rife that a deal to resolve more than 300,000 pending claims would be announced at a bankruptcy court hearing. But the hearing, at Halliburton's request, was postponed to next Wednesday to give the company and trial lawyers more time to negotiate. Shares of Halliburton were largely unchanged on the news of the delay. The stock was recently down 25 cents, or 1.25%, to $19.75. A year ago, the company's stock fell as low as $12 a share after a jury ordered the company to pay $30 million in damages in an asbestos case. The rough parameters of the deal are well known and have been confirmed by Halliburton and some of the trial lawyers. Among other things, a $4 billion trust would be set up to pay the claims, with Halliburton contributing $2.8 billion in cash and 60 million shares of company stock. It's not known exactly what's causing the delay, but the deal is complex and might require Halliburton putting its engineering and construction units into a prepackaged bankruptcy proceeding. The deal, however, would enable Dallas-based Halliburton to avoid filing for bankruptcy and resolve a thorny litigation issue that has been a major drag on its stock. One potential stumbling block in the negotiations could be a potential split in the ranks of the trial lawyers bringing the suits against the company. Most of the pending claims against the company have been filed by former employees of Halliburton's Harbison-Walker unit, who have not yet developed any symptoms of asbestos-related cancer but fear they might in the future. And it's lawyers for that group of litigants who have been leading the negotiations with the company.