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Action from euro officials to quell debt contagion fears did little to convince investors that the global outlook was any better. Late Sunday, the European Central Bank announcement plans to "actively implement" its bond-purchase purchase program in Italy and Spain.

The FTSE in London dropped 3.4%, and the DAX in Frankfurt plunged 5%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 2.2%, and Japan's Nikkei also closed 2.2% lower.

Calling Monday's market action a "bloodbath," BTIG Chief Global Strategist Dan Greenhaus said, "It's tough to separate out right now what's the effect of the downgrade versus what reflects concerns about global economic growth or the mismanagement of the eurozone crisis. To the extent that investors are nervous, wary, and risk-adverse, the downgrade is certainly exacerbating that."

"We've been down 10 of the last 11 sessions and we're down about 14% over the last 11 sessions. In the post-war era, that's nearly unparalleled," he said.

Energy and financial sectors were getting hit the hardest with Bank of America ( BAC), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and American Express ( AXP) among the biggest laggards alongside Alcoa ( AA) and Caterpillar ( CAT).

Consumer staples were seeing the mildest losses. Procter & Gamble ( PG), Intel ( INTC), Coca-Cola ( KO), and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) traded near the top of the Dow.

The market was a sea of red with 94% of the 7.8 billion shares trading on the > New York Stock Exchange trading lower and only 6% gaining ground. Some 2.9 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq.

Nearly 99% of stocks trading on the S&P 500 lost ground, with only 5 of the 500 stocks posting gains.

In corporate news, insurer AIG ( AIG) plans to sue Bank of America ( BAC) for losses on more than hundreds of mortgage-backed securities, according to a New York Times report. The suit seeks to recover more than $10 billion in losses on $28 billion of investments . AIG's stock plummeted 10% to $22.61 and Bank of America's stock plunged 20% at $6.53.

Rio Tinto ( RIO) and Japan's Mitsubishi offered to buy the shares that they don't already own in Australia's Coal & Allied Industries on Monday. The offer of 122 Australian dollars ($126.50) a share values Coal & Allied -- Australia's sixth-largest coal mine -- at 10.6 billion Australian dollars ($11 billion) . Rio Tinto is currently Coal & Allied's largest shareholder with a 75.71% stake. Mitsubishi holds 10.2%. Rio Tinto shares lost 11% at $54.65.

Reinsurer Transatlantic Holdings ( TRH) announced Sunday that it received a $3.25 billion buyout offer from National Indemnity , a unit of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK.A). The offer of $52 for each outstanding share represents a 15% premium to Transatlantic's Friday closing price. Shares of Transatlantic Holdings gained 4.1% to $47.08 and Berkshire's B shares lost 2.6% at $69.42.

Forty-five thousand Verizon ( VZ) workers from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., went on strike Sunday after negotiations failed to yield a new labor contract for more than one-fifth of the company's workforce. Verizon's stock lost 5% to $33.66.

-- Written by Chao Deng and Melinda Peer in New York.

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