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.

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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.

In analyst actions, Stifel Nicolaus initiated coverage of the airlines, assigning buy ratings to United parent

UAL

(UAL) - Get Report

,

Delta

(DAL) - Get Report

,

Continental

(CAL) - Get Report

and American parent

AMR

(AMR)

.

Southwest

(LUV) - Get Report

garnered a hold rating from Stifel.

Looking at the day's economic data, the Census Bureau reported August durable-goods orders fell by 4.5%, a far wider decline than the 1.3% drop expected by economists and down from a 0.8% increase in July. The Department of Labor reported that jobless claims for the week ended Sept. 20 came in at 493,000, ahead of analyst forecast of 450,000 and up from 461,000 in July.

A bit later, the Census bureau also is slated to report on new-home sales for August.

The price of crude oil was down $1.85 to $103.88 a barrel. Gold was down $7.30 to $887.70 an ounce.

Longer-term U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year was up 10/32 to yield 3.78% and the 30-year was gaining 1-2/32, yielding 4.35%. The dollar was weakening vs. its major foreign competitors.

Overseas, European exchanges such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were gaining. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished with losses.