- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street extended its big advance today as investors grew upbeat over a revised agreement that will give Bear Stearns Cos. shareholders five times the payout than was outlined in a deal a week ago. Investors were also pleased by a stronger-than-expected housing report.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped about 160 points.

Stocks rose after JPMorgan Chase & Co. confirmed a New York Times report that the company will boost its offer to $10 per share from $2. The revised plan is aimed at soothing Bear Stearns shareholders upset over JPMorgan’s earlier offer, which was made at the behest of the Federal Reserve when Bear Stearns was near collapse.

Beyond the troubles of the financials, Wall Street was examining the housing sector — the root of much of investors’ current angst. The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes rose by 2.9 percent in February, the first sales increase after six straight declines. Wall Street had expected sales of existing homes would show a decline, according to the median estimate of economists polled by Thomson Financial/IFR.

In early trading, the Dow rose 160.46, or 1.30 percent, to 12,521.78 after rising more than 260 points on Thursday, the last day of trading before the Easter holiday weekend.

Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 19.63, or 1.48 percent, to 1,349.14, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 39.20, or 1.74 percent, to 2,297.31.

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