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Stocks down, but improved from early levels

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Associated Press - January 22, 2008 11:53 AM ET

NEW YORK (AP) - Stock prices are lower at midday on Wall Street, although up from the worst levels of the day. Before the session began, the Federal Reserve trimmed short-term interest rates by three-quarters of a percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average is down 150 points at 11,948. Decliners on the New York Stock Exchange hold a 5-3 lead over advancers.

The Nasdaq Composite Index has lost 46 points at 2,293.

And the Standard-and Poor's 500 Stock Index is down 17 at 1,307.

Trading on the New York Stock Exchange during the first two hours totaled 2.7 billion shares. Volume on the Nasdaq Market came to 1.2 billion shares.

Stocks fell sharply at the opening bell, trimming more than 400 points off the Dow. Investors in the U.S. market were reacting to two days of dramatic declines on global markets.

In explaining the rate cut decision, the Fed said that "appreciable downside risks to growth remain" and officials pledged to "act in a timely manner" to deal with the risks facing the economy. The central bank's next regularly scheduled meeting is next week.

The White House says President Bush doesn't rule out the possibility of a larger economic stimulus package than discussed late last week. Bush is meeting with congressional leaders today to discuss details of the package, which both sides hope to approve quickly.

In Asia today, Japan's Nikkei stock average closed down more than 5% - its biggest percentage drop in nearly a decade. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 8.65% a day after showing its biggest losses since the September 11th, 2001 attacks.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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