- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Wall Street is extending its gains after news of a surprise jump in home sales last month.

The National Association of Realtors says pending U.S. home sales rose 5.1 percent in February to rate of 4.72 million units. Economists had expected sales would fall. That’s the second bit of good housing news over the past week _ last Tuesday, the government issued a better-than-expected housing starts report.

Stocks were already sharply higher following after the Treasury Department announced a plan to revive lending. The effort would involve government and private money to help banks remove as much as $1 trillion in bad assets from their books.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 221 at 7,500. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is up 23 at 792, and the Nasdaq composite index is up 42 at 1,500.

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