It was a weekend that changed Wall Street, and the nightmare is not over yet. The bankrupty of Lehman Brothers and sale of Merrill Lynch over the weekend dealt investors their worst losses since the terrorist attacks of 2001. A looming concern is the fate of other financial companies, particularly A.I.G., one of the world’s largest insurers.

Trading opened sharply down Monday morning and got more dismal by the hour, despite efforts by President Bush and his treasury secretary to reassure markets that Wall Street’s deepening problems would not weaken an already anemic economy.

By Monday's close, the Dow Jones industrial average had dropped 504.48 points, or 4.4 percent, as a record volume of more than 8 billion shares traded hands on the New York Stock Exchange. It was the biggest decline since the index reopened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — when it fell 7 percent, or 684.81 points.

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