The historic carnage on Wall Street spread to Asia today, with stocks plunging after Congress rejected a rescue plan that investors had hoped would bolster volatile financial markets.

All major stock markets in the region tumbled sharply, succumbing to heightened fears of a broader global credit crisis.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index shed more than 544 points, or 4.6 percent, to 11,199.07 after losing 1.3 percent Monday.

Key indices in Australia and New Zealand were down about 4 percent, Seoul's Kospi lost 3.5 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined 5.5 percent.

The weighted price index of the Taiwan Stock market, which was closed Monday because of a typhoon, fell 6.1 percent.

The selling in Asia came after world stock markets -- including the London Stock Exchange, Germany's DAX, France's CAC 40 and the Irish Stock Exchange -- tumbled Monday amid a flurry of government bank rescues.

The markets were responding to news that Dutch-Belgian banking giant Fortis NV was partly nationalized with a 11.2 billion euro ($16.4 billion) rescue from the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, after investor confidence in the bank disappeared last week.

Also, the British government nationalized mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley, taking over its 50 billion pound ($91 billion) mortgage and loan books. In a similar move, the Icelandic government bought a 75 percent stake in Glitnir, the country's third-largest bank, for 600 million euros ($878 million) to ensure broader market stability after it suffered liquidity issues.

In Germany, the country's second-biggest commercial property lender, Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, said it had secured a multibillion-euro line of credit from several banks.

Meanwhile, Latin American markets were still open when news that lawmakers on Capitol Hill had rejected the bailout sent investors running for the exits from Mexico City to Buenos Aires. Also, the Toronto Stock Exchange closed down 840 points, or 7 percent to 11,285. It had been down 955 points Monday in the initial reaction to the vote in the House.


The House website,, was overwhelmed Monday as millions of computer users sought information about the financial bailout bill rejected by the House.

"We haven't seen this much demand since the 9/11 commission report" was posted on the site in 2004, said Jeff Ventura, spokesman for the House chief administrative officer. "We're being overwhelmed with Web traffic about the bill."

He said the website is working, but many computer users are getting the equivalent of a busy signal when they try to visit the site. Once users are on the site, it works at reduced speed. "Eventually you get in," he said.

Ventura said the slowdown is expected to last until today. In the meantime, technicians planned to work through the night to fortify the system.

"Our computer people aren't going anywhere," he said.