Mortgage rates eased Thursday as Durable Goods Orders fell a larger than expected 4.5% in August. Jobless Claims rose to 493,000, far exceeding consensus. Rounding out the spate of negative economic news, New Home Sales fell 11.5% last month to their lowest levels in 17 years. However, investors’ main focus has been the proposed $700 billion financial industry bailout. Last night President Bush went on live TV urging Congress to pass the plan to avoid a “long and painful recession”. He is scheduled to meet today with presidential candidates McCain and Obama to discuss the proposal. Stocks moved higher as traders anticipate a swift passage of the plan.