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if by "read" you mean manipulate the data in the file according to the code you use in flash, then no, flash can't read part of an html file.
flash can read a text file (that has a particular organization) and it can read an xml file. and flash can use dynamic paths.
what I mean is the flash file (while embedded in a html file) reads the html file for a certain variable that is set to something.
yes, the html file that loads flash can pass a variable/value to flash by appending the variable/value to the swf reference. for example
<PARAM NAME=FlashVars VALUE="foo=Hello%20World">
<EMBED src="display.swf" FlashVars="foo=Hello%20World"></EMBED>