World and Nation

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United-Continental deal could come as soon as Monday

United Airlines and Continental Airlines are in advanced discussions on a merger after making progress on how to price the transaction, people briefed on the matter said Thursday.

A deal could be announced as soon as Monday, these people said, though they cautioned that talks were continuing and could fall apart. The boards of the two airlines will meet separately on Friday, with Continental’s directors scheduled to meet again on Sunday.

If a deal is worked out, a combined Continental and United would be the nation’s largest airline by revenue, ahead of Delta Air Lines, which recently completed a merger with Northwest Airlines.

Jean Medina, a spokeswoman for United, and Julie King, a spokeswoman for Continental, declined to comment.

Most of the details have been worked out, said people briefed on the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are at a delicate stage. The new company would be called United and based in Chicago.

Continental’s chairman, Jeffery A. Smisek, would be the new chief executive, while United’s chairman, Glenn F. Tilton, would be the new nonexecutive chairman for two years. After that, Smisek would become executive chairman.

Obama to nominate Diamond and two more to central bank

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama will nominate Janet Yellen on Thursday to be vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, and fill two remaining seats on the central bank’s board of governors, officials said Wednesday evening.

The announcement came hours after the Fed’s open market committee decided to keep short-term interest rates near zero and maintained, as it has for nearly a year, that rates would stay at that level for “an extended period.”

Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, is a leading macroeconomist and a former Fed governor, but the two other nominees, Peter Diamond, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Sarah Bloom Raskin, the Maryland commissioner of financial regulation, do not have backgrounds in monetary policy. The White House floated all three names last month, but delayed the nominations pending a review of the candidates’ backgrounds.

After its meeting Wednesday, the central bank disclosed nothing about when or how it would reduce the size of the $2.3 trillion balance sheet it accumulated as it acquired mortgage-backed securities to prop up the housing market, suggesting that it had no plans to start selling the assets anytime soon.

Attacker stabs 28 children at a kindergarten in China

BEIJINGAn unemployed man entered a kindergarten in Jiangsu province in eastern China on Thursday morning and stabbed 28 kindergarten students and three adults, critically wounding at least five children, local authorities and state news agencies reported.

It was the second mass stabbing of students in two days, and the third in less than a month.

Many of the wounded children were just 4 years old and shared the same classroom, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Police officers identified the assailant as Xu Yuyuan, a 47-year-old former insurance agent. According to Xinhua, he began attacking children with a knife about 8 inches long around 9 a.m. at the Zhongxin Kindergarten, a middle-class school in Taixing, about 570 miles southeast of Beijing. He also wounded two teachers and a security guard.

—Michael Wines, The New York Times