Treasury Department

is considering using more of its $700 billion rescue fund to buy stakes in a broad range of financial companies, not just banks and insurers, the

Wall Street Journal


Bond insurers and specialty finance firms such as

General Electric's

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GE Capital unit and

CIT Group

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would be the focus, the


reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

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Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in September unveiled a plan to buy up hard-to-sell assets of financial institutions such as mortgage-backed securities. But that proposal has yet to begin running, and the department may scrap part of that early plan -- purchasing assets through an auction process -- and instead purchase some of the distressed assets directly, the newspaper reports.

Of the original $700 billion, officials set aside $250 billion for equity investments. It has already invested $163 billion in a range of banks including

Goldman Sachs

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Bank of America

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. That number will likely expand at the expense of the asset-purchase plan, but by exactly how much is unknown, according to the



"We are looking at many ideas for strengthening the financial system and for restoring lending," said Jennifer Zuccarelli, a Treasury spokeswoman, the


reports. "We are weighing ideas and have made no decisions."

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