Stocks Open Sharply Lower ahead of Bailout Vote

The Wall St. street sign is photographed in front of the American flag hanging on the New York Stock Exchange prior to a NYC Central Labor Council rally for worker protections, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK - Stocks are opening sharply lower ahead of a planned House vote on an unpopular $700 billion plan to rescue troubled financial companies. Investors are also looking over Citigroup Inc.'s deal to buy Wachovia Corp.'s banking operations.

Investors fear the government's plan to buy up toxic debt won't be sufficient to resuscitate nearly frozen credit markets. Demand for Treasury bills, seen as the safest of investments, remained high ahead of the vote.

Meanwhile, the deal for Wachovia's banking operations removes concerns about the bank's health; it has billions of dollars in soured mortgage-related assets.

The Dow Jones industrial average is down 147 at the 10,995 level.