Sixty-one U.S. companies defaulted on their debt in the first three quarters of 2008, nearly quadruple the number last year. More than half were since late May, according to a report by Standard & Poor's.

Nine U.S. companies defaulted in September, including Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Washington Mutual Inc. Through the first five months of 2008, the year-to-date total was 28, which was already more than the 16 seen all of last year and the 22 from 2006.

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