Stocks declined Monday, led by financials, as investors waited for some resolution on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Lehman Brothers following rampant speculation last week.
"We're in a market with a very low level of confidence," said Al Goldman, the chief market strategist at Wachovia Securities. "We're making a bottom by wearing people out," he said, adding, "Remember Geritol — for tired blood? The market needs a daily dose of Geritol!"
But let the investor beware: Light end-of-summer volume can burn you like too much time on the beach without sunscreen.
"If you have no volume, this market's going to move around like a paper airplane," Steve Grasso, a broker for Stuart Frankel, told CNBC. A trader could be up 10 percent, then down 10 percent within 1-2 days in a market like this, Grasso explained.
Financials were the day's biggest decliner, falling more than 3 percent.
"It's still about the financials," Grasso said. "There's absolutely nothing that's attractive about this whole sector going forward in the near term."
AIG was the biggest drag on the Dow. The stock tumbled 5.5 percent to close at $18.78 after Credit Suisse cut its third-quarter estimate and price target for the insurer, citing hefty losses at the company's derivatives business. Given AIG's credit-default swap portfolio, it's one of the most exposed to recent credit deterioration, Credit Suisse said. The firm estimates that AIG is facing a $6.5 billion loss, more than twice the firm's prior estimate of $2.6 billion.
Financials had a lock on all three of the top Dow decliner spots, with AIG followed closely by Bank of America and JPMorgan .
Among other Dow components, Caterpillar , an industrial conglomerate with heavy overseas exposure, fell 2.4 percent amid worries that the U.S. slowdown is now spilling across the globe.
The International Monetary Fund trimmed its outlook for 2008-2009 world economic growth, taking 2008 down to 3.9 percent from last month's estimate of 4.1 percent, and 2009 down to 3.7 percent from 3.9 percent.
Lehman Brothers shed 6.7 percent as speculation continued to swirl about the firm. Private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has a "high level of interest" in buying Lehman's crown jewel, the Neuberger & Berman money-management firm, CNBC has learned.