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Delta, United Deny Merger Talks

ATLANTA (AP) _ Shares of Delta Air Lines rose four percent, and United Airlines stock went up one-and-a-half percent after reports that the two carriers were discussing a possible merger.

After both airlines denied the merger talks, Delta shares closed up 77 cents at $19.52 in trading yesterday. United shares gained 67 cents, to $44.17.

Delta issued a statement denying ``published reports that it had engaged in merger talk with United.'' United called the report of recent talks "wholly inaccurate.''

An official speaking on condition of anonymity stood by assertions about the talks after learning of the denials by Delta and United.

All airline executives are wrestling with the implication of oil prices hovering close to $100 a barrel. That has sharply boosted jet fuel expenses and accelerated a search for ways to cut costs, which typically results from airline takoevers.

Delta said its board established a special committee to work with management to review and analyze strategic options for the airline. Top executives have said recently they are trying to determine whether consolidation makes sense for Delta.


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