Markets volatile as investors await bailout plan

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Volatility swept through the financial markets Monday as investors awaited details of the government's plan to buy $700 billion in banks' mortgage debt and as oil shot higher. Stocks fell sharply, taking the Dow Jones industrials down about 220 points, while investors sought safety in hard assets, such as oil, which shot up by more than $20 a barrel.

Investors are relieved that federal authorities are taking action to relieve the nation's banks of their toxic assets. But the markets are not sure yet how successful the plan will be in unfreezing credit markets, which many businesses depend on to fund day-to-day operations, and for propping up the still-weak housing market.

The Dow was down 218.31, or 1.92 percent, at 11,170.13 level, while oil rose $24.45 to $129 a barrel as investors snapped up oil to cover bets on contracts that expire at the end of Monday's session. The dollar was down sharply, exacerbating the rise in oil. Credit markets were somewhat steadier than during last week's frantic trading.