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Stocks Rise at the Opening Bell

Updated from 9:15 a.m. EDT

Stocks in New York opened higher Thursday as the prospect of a quick bailout for financial firms trumped a gloomy earnings forecast from General Electric (GE - Get Report) and discouraging economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 80 points at 10,906, and the S&P 500 climbed 7.2 points to 1193. The Nasdaq added 16 points to 2171.

On Wednesday, the three major indices finished narrowly mixed after a day of erratic trading. Investors were focused on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion bailout plan for the financial sector.

Speaking Wednesday evening in Washington, D.C., President Bush called for a quick approval of the Treasury's plan and warned the economy would face a recession if the package were not approved. Bush called an emergency meeting with presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, as well as certain members of Congress, to work out a plan to pass the bill.

After Bush's speech, Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told CNBC that he believed the bill would pass.

Back on Wall Street, harried bank Washington Mutual (WM - Get Report) was approaching private equity companies, including Carlyle Group and Blackstone (BX - Get Report), about a potential takeover, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal Thursday.

Industrial conglomerate General Electric lowered its third-quarter profit forecast and suspended its stock-buyback program, citing weakness in the financial markets.

RealMoney.com

Elsewhere, shareholders in Delta (DAL - Get Report) and Northwest (NWA) are scheduled to vote on a merger between the two airlines, according to a report by the Associated Press.

As for corporate earnings, athletic apparel maker Nike (NKE - Get Report) reported first-quarter profit that increased year over year and bested the Street's estimates.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
BX $41.82 -0.07%
DAL $45.73 2.17%
GE $27.02 -0.84%
NKE $99.99 1.46%
WM $53.02 0.26%

Markets

DOW 18,034.93 +208.63 1.17%
S&P 500 2,100.40 +19.22 0.92%
NASDAQ 4,994.6020 +62.7870 1.27%

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