COPY-Blue chips advance on Fannie, Freddie news

Associated Press - September 8, 2008 11:53 AM ET

NEW YORK (AP) - Stock prices are higher at midday on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 170 points at 11,391. Gainers on the New York Stock Exchange hold a 5 to 2 lead over losers.

The Nasdaq Composite Index has gained 2 points at 2,258.

And the Standard-and Poor's 500 Stock Index is up 14 at 1,256.

Trading on the New York Stock Exchange during the first two hours totaled 3 billion shares. Volume on the Nasdaq Market came to 980 million shares.

Stock prices have posted an advance as investors reacted positively to the weekend announcement that the government was bailing out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Dow had been up more than 300 points in the early going.

The intervention is seen encouraging banks to write new mortgages and to refinance existing mortgages at lower rates, offering a possible lifeline to consumers struggling with increasing payments.

The nation's largest thrift, meanwhile, removed Kerry Killinger as CEO.

Altria Group announced it will buy UST, the maker of Skoal and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco, for more than $10 billion.

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