DALLAS -- United Airlines and Continental Airlines are in the early stages of exchanging financial information that could lead to a deal to combine and create the world's biggest airline, people briefed on the talks said Tuesday.

United had been talking with US Airways about a combination, but speculation has increased that United is more interested in the larger Continental.

The exchange of information between was confirmed Tuesday by two people who were briefed on the talks. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the negotiations.

One person said bankers for United and Continental are discussing how to value the companies in a stock-for-stock swap.