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Stocks mixed as investors look to D.C.


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POSTED: Tuesday, February 10, 2009

NEW YORK » Investors are waiting for Washington to make the next move.

Stocks ended a quiet session with only modest changes yesterday as Wall Street sought details of how the government will reshape a rescue plan for the financial industry.

Investors are also watching as political leaders scramble to put together an economic stimulus program.

The market is awaiting a speech today by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlining President Barack Obama's plan to overhaul the government's $700 billion financial bailout package.

The Senate is expected to pass an $827 billion stimulus bill on today.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is also expected to testify today at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the central bank's efforts to revive lending during the financial crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 9.72, or 0.12 percent, to 8,270.87. The blue chips fluctuated between gains and losses 49 times during the session.

Broader stock indicators were mixed after a big rally last week. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.29, or 0.15 percent, to 869.89, and the Nasdaq composite index slipped 0.15, or 0.01 percent, to 1,591.56.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 2.76, or 0.59 percent, to 467.94.

Gainers outnumbered losers by about 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to a light 4.93 billion shares compared with 6.38 billion traded Friday.

Bond prices ended mixed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, was unchanged at 2.99 percent from late Friday.

The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.32 percent from 0.27 percent late Friday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies. Gold prices fell.

Light, sweet crude fell 61 cents to settle at $39.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Amid the anticipation over the government's plans there were reminders that an economic recovery is still far off.

Barclays PLC warned that further asset write-downs - on top of the massive $11.9 billion booked for 2008 - were likely and said executive directors would not be getting any bonuses.

However, Britain's third-largest bank by assets said its 2008 net profit fell only 1 percent, boosted by last September's acquisition of part of failed investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

Financial stocks led the market higher ahead of the latest version of the Treasury Department financial rescue plan.

Bank of America Corp. jumped 76 cents, or 12.4 percent, to $6.89, while General Electric Co. rose $1.54, or 13.9 percent, to $12.64. GE has a big finance arm.