The misery on Wall Street continued today, with stocks falling again as investors put a close on one of the worst weeks in the financial world's history.
Financial leaders from the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada met for an emergency meeting this afternoon in an effort to halt spiraling anxiety about the world's financial markets.
Following the meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the group "finalized an aggressive action plan" to quell the stress on markets worldwide and strengthen institutions.
"Never has it been more essential to find collective solutions to ensure stable and efficient financial markets and restore the health of the world economy," he said.
Paulson said that the government is developing a bank stock purchase plan to directly "purchase equity" from "a broad array of financial institutions."
"We are developing strategies to use the authority to purchase and insure mortgage assets and to purchase equity in financial institutions, as deemed necessary to promote financial market stability," Paulson said.
The Treasury secretary's announcement comes as an attempt to recoup stability in the volatile market. The Dow lost another 128 points today to end the week at 8,451.19. The Dow lost another 128 points today to end the week at 8,451.19.
That's down from 1,874.19 points, or a shocking 18.2 percent from last week's close of 10,325.38. Just a year ago, the Dow hit its all-time high close of 14,164.53. In the last 12 months, the index lost 40.3 percent of its value.
In a tiny ray of hope, the Nasdaq gained 4.39 points today but the S&P 500 lost another 1 percent.
In another turbulent day, the Dow was down as many as 693 points and up at one moment 298 points. That startling 991-point swing left many queasy. At every positive turn of the Dow, traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange started to cheer.
But in the end there was no cheering as an awful week only got worse.
Today was the eighth consecutive day of losses on Wall Street. The last "up" day for the market came at the end of September.
"You're seeing social psychology play out on a grand stage here. Basically it's fear feeding on fear feeding on fear," said Stephen Leeb, chairman of the investment committee at Leeb Capital Management. "The intensity and unrelenting selling is unlike anything we have seen."
Still Leeb is optimistic. He said he believes that the market will inevitably come back and basically the harder the fall, the more intense the rebound will be.
"The most horrific decline in certainly anyone's memory, and possibly in history, could turn very quickly into being a very dramatic increase in stock price," Leeb said. "This is not the time to give up."
"Take a deep breath and just act as if its turbulence on a plane," he said. "There is very little you can do about it but hope that the leaders of the world do come together and make the right decisions."
President Bush once again tried to calm the markets, reading a statement in the Rose Garden after the stock market opened this morning.
Dow Plunges Again"This has been a deeply unsettling period for the American people. Many of our citizens have serious concerns about their retirement accounts, their investments, and their economic well-being," the president said.
Bush will meet tomorrow morning with the finance misters of the so-called G7 countries: the United States, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada.
"The federal government has a comprehensive strategy and the tools necessary to address the challenges in our economy. Fellow citizens: We can solve this crisis -- and we will," the president added. "We're working closely with partners around the world to ensure that our actions are coordinated and effective."
It was not a pretty picture overseas. Japan's Nikkei index lost 9.6 percent of its value overnight, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 7.2 percent, Great Britain's FTSE 100 fell 5.2 percent and the German DAX declined 7.1 percent.
The day on Wall Street started with stocks plunging quickly. Within seven minutes of the 9:30 a.m. open, the Dow was down 693 points, trading at 7,886.17 -- the lowest point of the day. The last time the Dow closed below 8,000 was March 31, 2003. But stocks rebounded off that low, turning positive briefly at 10:07 a.m. before dropping down more than 500 points again by noon.
Then, late in the day at 3:27 p.m., the Dow climbed out of the abyss and went positive, soaring in less than 10 minutes to 298 points above yesterday's close.
But in the end, stocks couldn't hold on to their gains and investors now look ahead to what next week will bring.
ABC's Charlie Herman contributed to this report.