NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock prices are down sharply at midday on Wall Street.
The Dow Jones industrial average is down 255 points at 8,439.
Decliners on the New York Stock Exchange hold a 5-to-1 lead over advancers.
The Nasdaq Composite Index has lost 37 points at 1,543.
And the Standard-and Poor's 500 Stock Index is down 27 points at 871.
Trading on the New York Stock Exchange during the first two hours totaled 1.8 billion shares.
Volume on the Nasdaq Market came to 668 million shares.
Stocks have been down sharply since the opening bell, and dropped further after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that funds from the financial rescue program will not be used to buy troubled assets after all.
He tells reporters that the administration will continue to purchase stocks in banks as a way to boost their balance sheets and encourage more lending.
There's more evidence that retailers are facing a grim outlook.
Macy's says it lost $44 million in the third quarter as sales fell more than 7 percent.
Best Buy slashed its fiscal 2009 outlook, citing the toughest environment it has ever seen.