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Cable stocks gyrate on merger report

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of the country's fourth and fifth-largest cable companies jumped Friday on a report of merger talks, while shares of No. 2 Time Warner Cable Inc. fell.

A report from Bloomberg News, citing sources it did not name, said Cox Communications Inc., the privately held No. 3 cable company, has held talks about combining with Charter Communications Inc., the fourth-largest cable company.

Cox discussed a deal with representatives of Liberty Media Corp., which owns 27 percent of Charter, according to the report. Liberty Media is controlled by billionaire John Malone, who has said publicly that he sees Charter as a vehicle for acquisitions in the cable industry.

A Cox spokesman said the company doesn't comment on rumors or speculation. A Charter spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Charter and Liberty had previously been reported to be in talks to buy Time Warner Cable. Friday's report of talks with Cox sent shares of New York-based Time Warner Cable down $1.82, or 1.6 percent, to $115.86 in afternoon trading. Before the report, the shares were trading as high as $120.41 in the morning, close to $120.93, which is the highest level the shares have reached since the company split from Time Warner Inc. in 2009.

Charter shares rose $5.25, or 4.1 percent, to $133.21. The day's high of $137.29 was the highest since the company emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

Cablevision, which based in Bethpage, N.Y., is the country's fifth-largest cable company. Its shares rose 62 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $19.26, apparently on speculation that Cablevision could also be a target in a cable consolidation spree. The day's high of $20.16 for the shares was the highest point since 2011.