Shares of Fleet Financial Group rose sharply Friday, a bad day for most bank stocks, on renewed speculation that the banking company is close to selling.

"There are rumors out there that have filtered into the options market," said George Bicher, analyst at BT Alex. Brown.

Fleet shares rose $1.5625, to $89.9375, and trading volume on its stock was two-and-a-half times daily average. The S&P bank index fell 1.52% Friday.

First Union Corp. has been frequently mentioned as a partner for Fleet. First Union's chairman and chief executive, Edward E. Crutchfield, is said to be close to Fleet's chief, J. Terrence Murray. The combination would create a huge company throughout the eastern United States.

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