JONES SHARES: Shares of Jones Apparel Group on Thursday rose 2.1 percent to close at $34.11 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Over 1.8 million shares changed hands, compared with an average three-month trading volume of 1.1 million shares. Following a report on a research note from Bear Stearns that Jones' credit rating might be downgraded to junk status if Barneys New York, the company's crown jewel, were sold, shares of Jones fell 0.28 percent, to $34.01 in aftermarket trading, raising the exchange of shares to nearly 2.1 million. As reported Thursday, sources in the U.S. and overseas said a fund linked to the Qatar royal family was the front-runner to buy the upscale retailer for more than $1 billion. Banking sources said Goldman Sachs, which has acted as financial adviser to Jones in the past, was not advising the apparel firm in connection with Barneys.

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