Updated from 9:38 a.m. EDT
U.S. stocks opened to the downside Monday as traders continued to worry about the extent and duration of a potential
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was losing 144 points to 8235, and the
was off 17 points at 859. The
was lower by 26 points at 1526.
On Friday, stocks closed on the downside as funds continued a forced liquidation of their investments and traders grappled with growing fears of a worldwide economic downturn.
As Monday's session began, financial firms, major players in the global crisis, were in focus. The
Web site reported that
chief Lloyd Blankfein approached
head Vikram Pandit about a merger. Pandit turned down the proposal, which was made in September, the report said.
Elsewhere on the merger front,
reached an agreement to acquire
in a stock swap the companies are valuing at around $11.6 billion.
Also, as the Treasury's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to buy equity stakes in troubled banks got underway, several companies announced their participation in the initiative. Among them,
announced they would take part in the
to buy stock in banks facing liquidity troubles.
, meanwhile, said it would slash its dividend 30% and apply to sell stock and warrants to the Treasury.
Also making headlines was conglomerate
, which said it will buy $1.25 billion of preferred stock in insurer
. Loews owns a 90% stake in CNA, which swung to a third-quarter loss because of a downturn in its investment portfolio and hurricane-related claims.
The state of the U.S. automakers was once again looking precarious.
requested support from the
to help it merge with
, telecom-services provider
announced quarterly results that were in line with Wall Street's estimates.
Looking at the day's economic data, the Census Bureau is expected to roll out its new home sales figures for September.
In the realm of commodities, crude oil was losing $1.23 to $62.92 a barrel. Gold was giving back $8.40 to $721.90 an ounce.
Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were mixed. The 10-year was down 2/32 to yield 3.68%, and the 30-year was gaining 26/32, yielding 4.02%.
The dollar was continuing the wild swings seen at the end of last week, making big gains against the euro and pound but taking sharp losses vs. the yen. The euro was down 1.5% to $1.24, and the pound was plummeting 3% to $1.59. Against the yen, the dollar was sliding 1.2%.
Abroad, European exchanges, including the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt, were taking heavy losses.
, such as Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng, closed on the downside.