Updated from 9:11 a.m. EST

U.S. stocks opened with losses Wednesday, as reports suggested the Treasury Department, the

Federal Reserve

and other government agencies were tweaking their plans to intervene in the most troubled corners of the financial markets.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

lost 173 points to 8521, and the

S&P 500

gave back 19 points to 880. The

Nasdaq

slid 26 points to 1555.

The status of programs to quell turmoil in the financial space was occupying investor attention.

The Wall Street Journal

reported ahead of Wednesday's session that the Treasury may begin to require companies to raise private money before gaining access to the $700 billion

Troubled Asset Relief Program

.

The

Journal

also reported that

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

, which on Monday had become a bank-holding company and thus eligible for funds from the Fed, was attempting to get $3.5 billion in capital injections from the government.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is also slated to offer an update on the progress of the TARP Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a report by

Bloomberg

indicated the Fed is attempting to become the main regulator for the credit-default swaps market. The Fed and other government agencies are working to develop a clearinghouse for the $33 trillion CDS market.

The government also was moving toward aid for the automakers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

suggested financial assistance for the industry, which includes

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

,

Ford

(F) - Get Report

and

Chrysler

. GM and Ford last Friday announced troubling quarterly losses that led some to question the future viability of the U.S. auto sector.

In the energy sector,

Exelon

(EXC) - Get Report

announced it would take its buyout bid for

NRG Energy

(NRG) - Get Report

straight to shareholders after NRG on Monday rejected Exelon's offer.

As for technology companies,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

is working on a deal with

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

to provide the default search software for Verizon Wireless' phones, according to a report by the

Journal

.

Among corporate earnings,

Dutch financial firm ING

(ING) - Get Report

swung to a quarterly loss on losses related to the financial crisis.

In retail, department store operator

Macy's

(M) - Get Report

announced a third-quarter loss on declining sales. Elsewhere among merchants, electronics vendor

Best Buy

(BBY) - Get Report

, citing declines in consumer spending, lowered its earnings forecasts for the remainder of its fiscal year.

Turning to economic forecasts, the Bank of England predicted a decline in Britain's inflation to below 2% next year, but also said that inflation could decline yet further on an economic downturn.

Looking at commodities, crude oil was declining $1.03 to $58.30 a barrel, as the

International Energy Agency

predicted global energy demand would rise 1.6% annually between 2006 and 2030 and called for new investments to avert a supply shortage. Gold was down $7.20 to $725.60 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year was up 16/32 to yield 3.68%, and the 30-year was up 18/32, yielding 4.16%. The dollar was higher vs. the euro and pound but losing ground against the yen.

Overseas, European exchanges, such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt, were trading lower. As for

Asian markets

, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed on the downside.