US Stocks Race Higher In Early Trading

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U.S. stocks raced higher Thursday, fueled by Wall Street's anticipation of a reprieve from accounting rules that force banks to value soured credit bets based on the most recent trades.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was higher by 177 points, and was near the 8000 mark it hasn't touched since February. The S&P 500-stock index climbed 2.4%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 2.6%.

Bank stocks rallied on expectations the Financial Accounting Standards Board will vote to relax fair-value accounting rules, giving auditors more flexibility in valuing illiquid assets. Citigroup shares rose 6.3%, Bank of America gained 6.8%, and J.P. Morgan Chase rose 3%. The KBW Bank Index was up more than 4%.

Many traders and analysts anticipate that the group's directors will relax mark-to-market rules - a step that could enable greater lending activity to spur the broader economy. If the rules are relaxed, banks would not be as likely to take big write-downs. Critics say that altering the rules could make banks' financial health less transparent to investors.

Monetary Fund to help it deal with the global downturn, officials said. The money is about twice as much as what the IMF initially sought.

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