NEW YORK - Financial markets appeared somewhat more upbeat Tuesday, with stocks showing a partial rebound from a huge sell-off as top economic officials updated Congress about efforts to hammer out a $700 billion financial rescue plan.
Oil and gold prices retreated after shooting higher Monday as investors went in search of hard assets, and demand eased a bit for 3-month Treasury bills, considered the safest short-term financial asset. The dollar, hit hard on Monday, regained ground.
After days of intense gyrations in financial markets, investors are anxious over whether the plan to absorb billions of dollars in banks' bad mortgages and other risky assets will help steer the sputtering economy back onto sound footing or if it will lead to more turmoil by dramatically ramping up inflation.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox are testifying before lawmakers, who are working with the Bush administration to iron out the details of the bailout.
In remarks prepared for his appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke urged Congress to quickly pass the financial bailout and warned "the implications for the broader economy could be quite adverse" if current economic turmoil persists.
The comments came as President Bush sought to assure world leaders at the United Nations that the U.S. government has the economic problems under control, calling the bailout package "a robust plan to deal with serious problems." He said there are ideas about how to change the package but that there was a desire in Washington to get it approved quickly.
The rescue plan is the latest in a string of extraordinary steps to prop up the U.S. economic system. Late Sunday, the Fed agreed to allow Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to change their status to bank holding companies. The move, which dramatically reshapes the landscape of Wall Street, allows the companies to set up commercial banks and take deposits, boosting their reserves. It also subjects them to greater regulation, however.
The market for short-term Treasurys appeared stable, but by no means relaxed. The yield on the 3-month T-bill rose to 1.07 percent from 0.88 percent on Monday; last week, it was around zero after investors flooded money into T-bills as the credit markets seized up. That spurred the Bush administration to formulate its debt buyout plan.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which trades opposite its price, fell to 3.81 percent early Tuesday from 3.85 percent on Monday.
The dollar, whose decline Monday drove some of the frenetic trading in other markets, was higher against other major currencies, while gold prices retreated from the previous day's big advance.
In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 76.62 percent, or 0.70 percent, to 11,092.31. On Monday, the Dow fell more than 370 points as unease over the government rescue plan sent investors scrambling for the safety of hard assets like oil and gold.
Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11.00 percent, or 0.91 percent, to 1,218.09, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 20.64, or 0.95 percent, to 2,199.62.
Investors will also be closely watching oil prices after anxiety over the government bailout and a huge short-covering rally pushed crude to the biggest one-day gain ever on Monday.
Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $1 to $108.37 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The October contract, which expired Monday, surged as much as $25.45 to $130 before falling back to settle at $120.92, up $16.37.
Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 2.09 percent, Germany's DAX index slid 0.34 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 1.61 percent. Japanese financial markets were closed Tuesday for a national holiday.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 106.3 million shares.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 1.68, or 0.23 percent, to 722.12.