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Story by the Associated Press

Halliburton Co. is in talks to buy rival oilfield-services provider Baker Hughes Inc., according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified people, said on its website Thursday that talks were moving quickly and could result in a deal soon. No possible price was reported. At the start of trading Thursday, Baker Hughes’ stock market value was $22 billion.

Representatives for the two Houston-based companies declined to comment on what they termed market speculation.

The report of deal talks comes during a drop in oil prices that has hurt both companies’ stock price.

Halliburton, Baker Hughes and a third major competitor, Schlumberger, help energy companies find and extract oil and gas.

Baker Hughes shares closed up 15 percent at $58.75. Halliburton gained 56 cents to $53.79.