Investors fled the equity markets Monday as worries about foreign currencies and economies escalated.

Bank stocks bore the brunt of the selloff as the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 100 points in the first 20 minutes of trading.

The Dow ended the day off 207.01, after a modest late-morning rally gave way to greater selling in the afternoon. At day's end, Citicorp was down $6.75, to $144.9375; J.P. Morgan & Co. shed $2.375, to $119.25; and Wells Fargo & Co dropped $2.25, to $346.9375.

The days ahead may be just as volatile, market watchers said.

"There is uncertainty out there," said Angelina Billon, equity research director at Johnston, Lemon & Co. "A lot depends on what happens with Asia."

Sagging economies in that part of the world are having a particularly negative impact on bank stocks. Investors fear exposures in lending and trading operations, and also see banks undercut if their corporate customers suffer from the upheaval.

For the day, the Standard & Poor's bank index dropped 1.63%, the Nasdaq bank index 1.51%, and the S&P 500 1.99%.

The biggest decliners among regional banks included BankBoston Corp. off $2.125, to $104.75; Fleet Financial Group, down $2.5625, to $79; and Mellon Bank Corp. $1.4375 lower, to $64.9375.

Brokerages showed early strength on speculation they would follow the example of McDonald & Co., which said Monday it was selling out to KeyCorp. But their gains were gone by midafternoon. Dain Rauscher closed at $50.8125, down $1.8125; and Advest Group dipped 50 cents, to $26.3125.

Thrifts failed to rise on news of Charter One Financial's agreement to buy Albank Financial Corp. Dime Bancorp dipped 93.75 cents, to $28.5625; Long Island Bancorp dropped $1.75, to $58.50; and Washington Mutual skidded $1, to $43.50.

Union Planters Corp. was again being talked up as an acquisition target. The Memphis banking company is near to closing 12 acquisitions for community banking companies.

The purchases, expected to wrap up in the third quarter, will make Union Planters "an increasingly attractive" prospect for a larger bank looking to expand in the Southeast and Midwest, Ms. Billon said.

She said Union Planters could fetch between $85 and $90 per share and, if remaining independent, should reach $76 within 12 months. The shares closed at $55.6875, down $1.375.

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