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COLUMBIA/HCA CONSIDERING MERGER

Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. stock jumped 10 percent Wednesday and was the most active on the New York Stock Exchange on a report that the company might merge with its next-largest competitor.

The Wall Street Journal said Columbia, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, has discussed merging with Tenet Healthcare Corp. The combined companies would own 8 percent of the nation's hospitals.

Both companies declined comment on the report, which drove Columbia shares up $3.25 to close at $36.31 1/4 . The stock dropped 69 cents to $35.63 today.

Tenet shares rose $2.62 1/2 , or nearly 10 percent, to $30.12 1/2 , also on the NYSE Wednesday but dropped 75 cents today.

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