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In the first minutes of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average is trading down 182 points at the 11,768 level.
U.S. stocks headed for a sharply lower open Monday as Wall Street and other global markets reeled from JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s government-backed buyout of faltering investment bank Bear Stearns Cos.
On top of supporting the buyout, the Federal Reserve took the extraordinary step of lowering the rate it charges to loan directly to banks just two days before its scheduled meeting Tuesday. The central bank lowered the discount rate by a quarter point to 3.25 percent.
Stock markets across Europe fell 2 to 3 percent soon after opening on Monday, following drops on major Asian stock markets of 3 to 5 percent. Tokyo's benchmark index hit a three-year low before it rebounded slightly; Chinese and Indian stock markets tumbled even more sharply.
In the United States, stock futures plunged overnight, indicating that the markets would open to heavy losses. Futures in the Dow Jones industrial average were down more than 200 points.