It is not quite as dramatic as the dot.com effect that has sent Internet companies' stock into orbit, but a move into subprime credit card lending can do a lot to boost a share price.

Household International Inc. got a taste of subprime fever Thursday, when its shares were pushed 4% higher by news that it was poised to fortify its beachhead in the subprime market by buying the card marketer Renaissance Holdings Inc. (See story on page 1.)

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