Microsoft is scrambling to quell a new round of speculation after chief executive Steve Ballmer told attendees at a tech research conference in Orlando that a deal with Yahoo "makes sense for their shareholders and ours." As you might expect, the mere mention of possible talks between the two companies sent Yahoo's stock price up to $13 from their recent low of $11.50.

But within an hour of the news, Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw issued a statement to retract Ballmer's comments saying Microsoft has no interest in acquiring Yahoo. All in all, Ballmer should probably be relieved he withdrew from the deal six months ago, given the way the market has turned amid a slowing economy and how Yahoo's shares have lost more than half their value. If the companies did eventually return to the negotiating table, however, Microsoft might be able to score a much better deal than the $33 per share it was offering.