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News Wrap: Stocks Gain Amid Hopes of New Fed Stimulus Program

August 23, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: Wall Street shot back up today amid speculation that the Federal Reserve might try a new stimulus program after all. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 322 points to close at 11,176, a gain of three percent. The Nasdaq rose 100 points, more than four percent, to close at 2,446.

Hurricane Irene built up steam over warm tropical waters today, as it took aim at the U.S. East Coast. The storm swept past the Turks and Caicos Islands, with the southeastern Bahamas next in line. It could strike the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Saturday, then head north to the Chesapeake Bay and beyond. Irene is the first hurricane in three years to seriously threaten the U.S.

The Obama administration has laid out plans to scrap hundreds of federal regulations. White House officials said today the cuts should save businesses about $10 billion over five years. They include speeding up payments to small businesses with military contracts and streamlining tax forms.

There was word today that Syria’s fractured opposition is trying to unite and form a national council. Opposition members reported meetings are under way in Istanbul, Turkey.

AHMED RAMADAN, Syrian opposition member (through translator): We agreed
on shaping aspects of Syria as a civil and modern country with a new constitution which guarantees equal rights to citizens, a peaceful handover of power, an independent judiciary, rule of law, respect of human rights and guarantees of basic cultural, religious, and individual rights for all components of Syrian society within the framework of the country’s national unity.

KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, the U.N.’s top human rights body demanded that Syrian President Bashar Assad end the violent crackdown on protesters.

Activists reported government troops shot and killed at least seven people yesterday in the city of Homs after a U.N. team left that area. U.N. officials say 2,200 Syrians have been killed over the past five months.

The largest city in Pakistan was mostly deserted this day in a general strike to protest a wave of killings. A top political party in Karachi organized the strike to protest the deaths of nearly 100 people in the last week alone. Much of the violence in Karachi has been blamed on gangs tied to political factions.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.