Stocks are showing significant strength during mid-morning trading on Monday, as investors cheer the new plan for fixing the downtrodden banking sector. Some strong earnings in the retail sector and existing home sales figures are also helping to drive stocks higher.

Earlier in the day, Treasury Secretary Geithner announced his plan to help the troubled banking industry. The plan will involve setting up an investment fund to buy mortgage-related securities and other assets that are driving down the balance sheets at the banks.

The new Public Private Investment Program would combine taxpayer money with private funds, aiming to buy loans and free up banks to renew lending.

On the economic front, existing home sales for the month of February came in considerably better than analysts had anticipated, rising to a rate of 4.72 million from a pace of 4.49 million units in January. Economists had expected sales to slip to a 4.45 million unit rate.

The major averages have seen some further upside in recent trading, rising to new highs for the session. The Dow is currently up 276.22 at 7,554.60, the Nasdaq is up 51.03 at 1,508.30 and the S&P 500 is up 28.73 at 797.27.

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