Bank of America is in advanced talks to acquire struggling Countrywide Financial, The Wall Street Journal reported today on its Web site...

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LOS ANGELES — Bank of America is in advanced talks to acquire struggling Countrywide Financial, The Wall Street Journal reported today on its Web site, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.

It wasn’t clear how quickly a deal might be struck for the nation’s largest mortgage lender, which has been roiled this week by a tumbling stock price and rumors that a bankruptcy filing was imminent.

The people also told the newspaper it was possible that an agreement could be delayed or fall apart altogether.

Bank of America told The Associated Press it does not comment on market rumor or speculation. Countrywide did not immediately return calls or e-mails seeking comment.

The Dow Jones industrials jumped more than 120 points on the news, released shortly after noon Seattle time. The market has been buffeted lately by concerns about fallout from the mortgage and credit crisis. Countrywide’s problems with delinquent and defaulting loans have sent stocks falling in recent days.

“For the last month, rumors are that Countrywide was going into bankruptcy,” said Ryan Larson, senior trader at Voyageur Asset Management. “Any deal with Bank of America is good news, and the market is looking for even a hint of good news these days.”

Countrywide shares climbed $3, or 58 percent, to $8.12 in afternoon trading today, while Bank of America shares rose 67 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $39.41.