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Continental Has Held Merger Talks with AMR: WSJ

Continental Airlines has held preliminary merger talks with AMR's American Airlines, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the situation.

Continental is already involved in early-stage talks with UAL's United Airlines about a possible deal.

The talks come as Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines

are in the final stages of negotiating a merger agreement, the Journal reported, citing people knowledgeable about the matter.

Delta also discussed a combination with United in recent weeks but now is leaning strongly toward Northwest, the report said.

The possibility of a Delta-Northwest combinations spurred United and Continental to renew talks after previous negotiations failed. However, Continental and United are not in the final stages of negotiations, and Continental hasn't yet signed a confidentiality agreement with United, the Journal reported.

Shares of Continental rose 3.5% to $29.69, while AMR

shares gained 3% to $15.25.

UAL shares added 32 cents to $37.35, while Delta shares rose 1.6% to $17.33 and Northwest shares climbed 1 cent to $17.20.