U.S. stocks rose steadily for a second day on Thursday, with financial shares climbing on expectations that government plan to be unveiled today may help banks' profits by limiting subprime mortgage defaults.

President George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will announce later today a deal with lenders to freeze interest rates on some adjustable-rate home loans. Shares in Washington Mutual Inc. and Countrywide Financial Corp. were up.

In other activity, Apple Inc. rose after Bear Stearns Cos. raised its price target for the company's stock.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 64.62, or 0.5 percent, to 13,509.58 as of 1:30 p.m. in New York. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 7.44, or 0.5 percent, to 1,492.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 18.7, or 0.7 percent, to 2,684.53. More than five stocks gained for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Washington Mutual, the biggest U.S. savings and loan, gained 31 cents to $18.90. Countrywide, the largest mortgage lender, increased $1.11 to $11.53.

Apple gained $2.22 to $187.72. Bear Stearns analysts raised their fiscal 2008 earnings estimate to $5.40 a share from $5.25, citing higher iPod sales and better-than-expected demand for Macintosh computers in Asia. The bank boosted its share-price target by $6 to $249.