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the historic launch of Europe's ambitious single currency shifts into high gear today as foreign-exchange, bond, and stock markets begin working with the euro, which is expected by many to eventually rival the dollar as the world's premier unit of account.

Bell Atlantic is trying to acquire AirTouch Communications, a giant wireless-services company, for roughly $45 billion in stock, analysts said. But reports of a possible merger prompted no comment from spokesmen for either party. If it took place, the merger would make Bell Atlantic second only to AT&T in offering wireless services nationwide, said Jeffrey Kagan, an independent industry analyst. Bell Atlantic is the nation's largest local Bell operating company.

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Compiled by Lance Carden and Caryn Coatney

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