Delta-Northwest discussions move forward; UAL, Continental in talks: report

San Francisco (Thomson Financial) - Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. continue to discuss a possible merger, with the possibility of a deal announcement as early as next week, according to a published report late Wednesday.

Certain obstacles over the management structure of a combined Delta-Northwest carrier have been overcome, and previously stalled negotiations have picked up steam, according to a report on the Wall Street Journal's Web site that cited sources.

Additionally, "preliminary talks" between UAL Corp., the parent company of United Airlines, and Continental Airlines Inc. have grown "more serious," the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.

Both deals could still fall apart as key details remain to be agreed upon, the report said.

Shares of Delta closed the regular session up 92 cents, or 5.4%, at $17.95, while Northwest's stock finished up 69 cents, or 3.9%, at $18.47.

UAL shares closed the session up $1.01, or about 2.8%, at $37.67, as Continental's stock finished up 58 cents, or almost 2.1%, at $28.78.

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