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AT&T Rallies on Executive-Change Rumor

The company declines to comment, but even traders don't put much stock in this one.

Shares of


(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

rallied late Wednesday amid rumors that CEO C. Michael Armstrong would leave the company, to be replaced by

Liberty Media Group


head John Malone.

The company declined to comment.

Under water for much of the day, Telephone turned higher on heavy volume at around 2:30 p.m. EDT. About 10 minutes later, Internet site

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reported the rumor. Yet even as the stock ran higher, traders were casting scorn on the chatter.

"It's scummy flyonthewall kind of stuff," said Peter Blatchford, trader at

Miller Tabak

. "But it kind of got the market going."




reported that unidentified people "close to the situation" described the rumor as untrue.

AT&T, which rose as high as $32.75, closed up $1.25, or 4.1%, to $32. The stock has been hit hard this year, falling some 50% at its lows, as revenue growth has slowed and investors have failed to reap the benefits that were promised by Armstrong's bold move into broadband telecommunications services. The executive has spent some $110 billion on cable companies and other media firms over the last three years as he tries to reverse the long-distance giant's dependence on its shrinking consumer and business phone businesses. But so far, Armstrong's approach has won few allies.