Updated from 8:55 a.m. EDT

Stocks on Wall Street Friday opened higher ahead of a hotly anticipated congressional vote on the Treasury Department's rescue package for financial firms. A bank merger deal that will not require government assistance and an increasingly likely rate cut from the

Federal Reserve

were bolstering buying sentiment.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

climbed 100 points to 10,583, and the

S&P 500

was better by 15 points at 1129. The

Nasdaq

added 33 points to 2010.

On Thursday, stocks finished with sharp losses as traders digested some bearish economic data and waited for signs that a $700 billion

bailout package

for the financial sector would pass the House of Representatives. The bill, slated to go before a vote Friday, is expected to pass the House by a narrow margin.

As investors awaited legislative aid,

Wachovia

(WB) - Get Report

announced it has agreed to be sold to

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

in a $15.1 billion deal that

Wells Fargo

says will not require assistance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. or any other government agency. The deal seems to negate another deal brokered by the FDIC Monday under which

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

agreed to acquire all of the banking subsidiaries of Wachovia.

Not all news from the financial sector was as rosy. Swiss bank

UBS

(UBS) - Get Report

said it would cut 2,000 jobs as part of its reorganization efforts.

The Wall Street Journal

reported that

Washington Mutual CEO Alan Fishman

won't stay on at

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

, which acquired WaMu after it failed on Sept. 25.

In other board shakeups, mortgage packager

Fannie Mae

( FNM) announced that former

CEO Daniel Mudd

will not be keeping his seat on Fannie's board.

Meanwhile, several media reports suggested that Japanese firm

Mitsubishi UFJ

(MTU)

may

merge its investment banking unit with Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

operations in Japan.

Elsewhere, private equity firm

Blackstone

(BX) - Get Report

bought a $600 million stake in

China National BlueStar

, according to a report by

Bloomberg

.

In the technology arena,

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

may, according to a report in the

Journal

, be gearing up to release a

smartphone

.

As for economic data, the Department of Labor reported that the September unemployment rate remained at 6.1%, the same rate as in August and nonfarm payrolls decreased by 159,000, the largest drop since March 2003 and twice the decline feared by economists. The average work week declined to 33.6 hours from 33.7 in August.

The dismal employment numbers were spurring speculation that the Fed would soon cut its target interest rate. Futures markets were pricing in 100% odds of a rate cut before the Fed's next meeting on Oct. 29.

September services numbers from the Institute for Supply Management are due later this morning.

In commodities, crude oil was up 33 cents to $94.30. Gold was losing $7.90 to $836.40.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were slightly higher. The 10-year was adding 5/32 to yield 3.61%, and the 30-year was gaining 25/32, yielding 4.11%. The dollar was softening vs. the yen and edging higher against the euro and pound.

Across the seas, European exchanges, such as London's FTSE and Frankfurt's DAX, were largely trading higher.

Asian indices

like the Nikkei in Japan and Hong Kong's Hang Seng, meanwhile, closed with losses.