Debt issues hampered markets in Europe and the United States, as the congressional supercommittee in Washington appeared to be on the verge of failing to come to a bipartisan agreement on long-term deficit reduction, The New York Times reported.
There was no supercommittee meeting scheduled for Monday, the last day for a proposal to surface that would become law in time for a Wednesday deadline on passage of a bill.
Economic data continued to show slow improvements. The National Association of Realtors said Monday existing home sales rose 1.4 percent in October to an annual rate of 4.97 million units.
By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 248.85 points or 2.11 percent to 11,547.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 22.67 points or 1.86 percent to 1,192.98. The Nasdaq composite index shed 49.36 points or 1.92 percent to 2,523.14.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 466 stocks advanced and 2,606 declined on a volume of 3.8 billion shares traded.
The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 11/32 to yield 1.974 percent.
The euro fell to $1.3498 from Friday's $1.3524. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 76.91 yen from Friday's 76.95 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3 percent, 26.64, to 8,348.27.
In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 2.6 percent, 140.34, to 5,222.60.