The major stock market indexes have staggered to their lowest levels in more than a decade, pulled down by investors' rapidly waning confidence.
The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index are at the lowest point since 1997, succumbing to growing worries about a recession that has no end in sight.
Most financial stocks were pounded even as government agencies led by the Treasury Department have said they will launch a revamped bank rescue program. It includes the option of increasing government ownership in financial institutions without having to pour more taxpayer money into them.
The Dow Jones industrial average is down 250 at 7,114. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is down 26 at 743, while the Nasdaq composite index is down 53 at the 1,387.
Declining stocks outnumbered advancers by about 6 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to a moderate 1.61 billion shares.