Merger conjecture is growing concerning Fleet Financial Group Inc., with the possibility of a deal with First Union Corp. or PNC Bank Corp. high on some lists.

Speculation appeared to lift the stock Thursday morning when shares of the Boston-based company advanced in a down market. Fleet's shares surged to a new 52-week high of $90.3125, but later slipped back as the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 100 points during the day.

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