President Reagan and congressional leaders, spurred by the deepening financial crisis, met yesterday at the White House and agreed to set aside partisanship and seek a compromise package that would significantly reduce the federal budget deficit and send a positive signal to Wall Street.

A consensus appeared to be developing late in the day on Capitol Hill and at the White House that a multiyear agreement is needed to convince financial markets both in this country and abroad that the U.S. government is serious about bringing down the deficit before a full-scale recession develops.

"We are driven by a sense of urgency in these negotiations," said a senior official who gave a gloomier estimate of economic conditions than the rosy one Reagan and other administration officials have made in public.

Although some negotiators said the deteriorating market conditions called for an agreement this week, the president's schedule -- complicated by yesterday's death of his mother-in-law -- makes that unlikely.

Reagan continued to discount the importance of the market slide. In an interview with European television journalists that the White House press office declined to release, the president referred to the stock market collapse as a "corrective change" caused by overpricing.

"I wonder sometimes if what happened in the market is not a case of maybe the market overpriced itself {so} that it's now making a corrective change," Reagan said. At his news conference last week, Reagan called the market decline a "long-overdue correction."

House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and other House Democratic leaders said there is general agreement that the talks should produce a framework for achieving a deficit reduction of at least $23 billion this year and to achieve more if possible. The speaker said the emphasis will be on a multiyear approach that would yield "long-term reductions" rather than illusory one-year gains.

"We're not going to be satisfied with putting cold patches on the inner tube," said Wright.

At the White House meeting, Reagan and congressional leaders pledged to mute partisan criticism and try to reach an agreement as quickly as possible. White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) had set the tone for the meeting by saying, "Let's stop looking backward, let's look forward."

But in the interview with foreign television journalists, Reagan said, "I set out to try and eliminate the deficit when I first came here, but unfortunately the Congress has the last word about spending, and they have been more willing to spend than I would have been."

Fitzwater characterized the session as "very positive, constructive and cordial." He said a high-level negotiating team will begin work this afternoon and that the package that emerges will be presented to the president and the congressional leadership. Reagan and the leaders will meet to discuss the final compromise.

The White House spokesman said the negotiators will seek to reduce the deficit by at least $23 billion. Byrd gave the same goal, adding in a comment to reporters in the White House driveway, "If we can do better, we want to do better."

After another day of market decline, however, some administration officials were saying that it may be necessary to go well beyond the $23 billion figure, which is the amount by which the deficit will automatically be reduced by previously approved Gramm-Rudman-Hollings legislation if no agreement is reached. "Since this {$23 billion reduction} is going to happen anyway, it may not be enough to satisfy the markets," said a White House official.

Senate Republican leaders said the negotiators should push for a multiyear deficit reduction effort that includes a hard look at spending programs, including all entitlements except Social Security, and relies less on taxes than has been urged by House Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) and the ranking Republican on the budget committee, Pete V. Domenici (N.M.), also said Congress should slow down consideration of other expensive legislation that is moving through Congress, including the trade, catastrophic health insurance, welfare reform and farm credit bills.

Yesterday's continued deterioration on the stock market "underscores the need for . . . a bipartisan effort, a very quick effort," Dole said.

Dole said market conditions argue for action as soon as this week, but that yesterday's death in Phoenix of Edith Luckett Davis, the mother of First Lady Nancy Reagan, makes this unlikely.

The president is scheduled to accompany his wife, who is recovering from cancer surgery, to Phoenix today and return tonight. He will speak at West Point on Wednesday and return to Phoenix late in the week for the funeral.

Fitzwater repeated the pledge made by Reagan at his news conference last Thursday that "everything is on the table," except for Social Security, and played down Reagan's frequently expressed opposition to tax increases, which are considered likely to be part of any compromise package. The spokesman said the negotiations will be conducted under a "news blackout" in an attempt to reduce the impact of the talks on the jittery markets.

Yesterday's meeting did not deal with specifics about what a compromise might contain. An administration official said that "both sides are trying to leave plenty of running room" in case they dislike the package their negotiators produce.

Both Wright and House Majority Leader Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) said Reagan indicated considerable wariness about across-the-board spending cuts such as those required by Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and other plans being pushed by some Republicans in Congress. Reagan told lawmakers at the meeting that he had proposed a 10 percent across-the-board cut while governor of California and the "ceiling had fallen in on him," said Wright.

"I gathered from that he doesn't like the idea of an arbitrary freeze," said Wright.

The White House will be represented at the negotiations by Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III, White House chief of staff Howard H. Baker Jr. and budget chief James C. Miller III.

The Senate negotiators will include Democrats Lawton Chiles (Fla.), Lloyd Bentsen (Tex.) and J. Bennett Johnston (La.) and Republicans Domenici, Mark O. Hatfield (Ore.) and Bob Packwood (Ore.).

House Democrats on the team will be Foley, Jamie L. Whitten (Miss.), Dan Rostenkowski (Ill.) and William H. Gray III (Pa.). House Republicans will name their representatives today.

Staff researcher Michelle Hall contributed to this report.