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January 29, 2007    

US banks mixed on merger news, rumors

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by Elaine Frei

New York equities markets were slightly higher on Monday. By midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1 percent to 12,504.88, while the Nasdaq Composite had gained 0.15 percent to 2,439.12 and the S&P 500 added 0.04 percent to 1,422.71.

The banking sector was mixed on mergers news and rumors. First Republic Bank added 40.2 percent to $53.69 after Merrill Lynch announced that it would buy the bank. Merrill Lynch dropped 1.5 percent to $93.15. Bank of America dropped 1 percent to $51.50 and Countrywide Financial added 4.3 percent to $43.80 on investor reaction to a Friday report that the two were in talks about a merger. Meanwhile, Citigroup was 1.1 percent lower to $54.07 on the announcement that it will purchase Egg Banking from Prudential in the UK.

In the semiconductors sector, Intel gained 2.1 percent to $20.96 after it said it has had success in making, smaller, more powerful microchips.

Pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb added 5.9 percent to $27.75 on rumors of a buyout.

Tyson Foods was 3.8 percent higher to $17.33 after it said that profits were up 46 percent in its fiscal first quarter. Earnings were 16 cents per share, well above predictions of 6 cents per share.

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