Stories about an imminent acquisition of Fleet Financial Group were burning up the news wires on Friday. But analysts who dined with top Fleet executives Thursday night weren't buying any of them.

During an informal dinner sponsored by Fleet, one participant asked chief executive Terrence Murray directly whether a sale was in the works, rattling off a half-dozen potential acquirers.

Mr. Murray "answered very clearly by saying that Fleet was not in merger discussions with anyone," said David Hilder of Morgan Stanley & Co., one of about 30 attending the dinner at Giambelli, a tony Manhattan restaurant.

"Terry Murray seemed healthy and full of resolve to transition Fleet from having a strong franchise to becoming a high performer," added Michael Mayo of Lehman Brothers & Co.

Fleet declined to comment Friday. But the market wasn't buying the speculation either. The Boston company's shares had fallen $2.125 by mid- afternoon to $56.625, in line with the market.

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