Updated from 9:43 a.m. EDT

Stocks on Wall Street Friday were tracking higher ahead of a hotly anticipated congressional vote on a bill to rescue struggling financial firms. A new 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 216 points to 10,704, and the S&P 500 was better by 31 points at 1145. The Nasdaq added 62 points to 2039.

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.

"Anyone who thinks that this is going to be a silver bullet is going to be sorely disappointed," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at ChannelCapitalResearch.com. He said the problems in credit markets and the economy have to work themselves out over a long period of time. Because of the global nature of the liquidity crisis, Roberts said, a solution will require a global coordinated effort among central banks. He said the bailout package is "not the seminal event that I think people are talking about. It's the first in a series of steps."

Today's bounce in the major indices was a result of oversold conditions after heavy selloffs earlier this week, said Richard Sparks, senior equities analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research. He said that a not-horrendous employment number and optimism about the House's passage of the relief package contributed to buying enthusiasm.

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