Stocks Open Down After Big Rally

Sales of existing homes, copper prices, demand for crude bolster optimism.

ByABC News
March 23, 2009, 7:35 AM

March 24, 2009— -- The market spent most of the day retreating slightly from its giant Monday rally as experts found signs of economic encouragement in the Obama administration's $1 trillion plan to buy up banks' toxic assets as well as other areas, like the boomlet in the sales of existing homes.

The Dow Jones industrial average started the day lower, edged into positive territory shortly after 2 p.m. but then dropped again, closing down 115.57 points at 7660.29.

The day before, the Dow surged nearly 500 points but now Wall Street and the rest of the world appear to be to shrugging off the early euphoria over the administration's latest attempt to stabilize the banks and are now focusing on the plan's details.

"One day does not make a plan successful," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted Monday night. "We believe we have to provide very substantial forms of financing to help get those markets going again."

All eyes on Wall Street were fixed on Capitol Hill today as Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the House Financial Services Committee about the government's intervention at insurance giant American International Group.

They will be focused again tonight on President Obama when he holds a primetime news conference that will likely focus heavily on the economy.

Monday's market surge was triggered by Geithner's unveiling of a plan to use as much as $1 trillion in public and private funds to buy toxic assets from banks, freeing the banks to resume lending.

A resurgence in lending may not happen immediately. Officials said it would take four to eight weeks to get the program under way.

"It is going to take quite some time for them to navigate all of this toxic stuff off the balance sheets off the banks," said John Bussey, Washington bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal.

Investment giant BlackRock, however, is downright enthusiastic about the new program.

The investment management firm has applied to become one of the government-selected managers and is willing to raise $5 billion or so of private money to partner with taxpayer dollars, Curtis Arledge, co-head of Blackrock's U.S. Fixed Income Portfolio Management Group, told ABC News.

"We think many of these assets are trading at prices well below their intrinsic value," Arledge said.

Jack Bouroudjian, CEO of the Futures Group in Chicago, was also encouraged by Geithner's plan.