NEW YORK, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks fell sharply on Friday as investors grew concerns over a possible slowdown of the global economy and a slew of corporate news.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 496.87 points, or 2.02 percent, to 24,100.51. The S&P 500 decreased 50.59 points, or 1.91 percent, to 2,599.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 159.67 points, or 2.26 percent, to 6,910.66.
The Dow slumped more than 550 points at its low during the session and dived to its lowest close since May.
The S&P 500 dipped to its lowest closing level since April. All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors closed lower, with health and technology down 3.37 percent and 2.48 percent, respectively, leading the laggards.
After Friday's steep sell-off, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is now just up 0.11 percent for the year.
The Cboe Volatility index, widely considered the best fear gauge in the stock market, rose 4.75 percent to 21.63 on Friday.
Global markets were in risk-off mode with investors simply trying to limit performance damage rather than reach for outperformance, according to some analysts.
"Traders are again selling shares of profitable trades before the closing of the year. There isn't a great deal of volume in stock trading today, so that means there is less resistance against the pressure from sellers today," John Monaco, a trader at Wellington Shields & Co. LLC, told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, a strong U.S. dollar also complicated the situation. The U.S. dollar rose in late trading on Friday.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, rose 0.39 percent to 97.4441 at 3:00 p.m. (2000 GMT).
"Today's lower market index seems to be derived from another day of strong U.S. currency. The U.S. dollar's strength must be monitored closely as too much strength in the dollar hurts global corporate profits," said John.
Wall Street also digested a slew of corporate news.
Shares of Johnson & Johnson, a Dow member, plunged more than 10 percent on Friday after Reuters reported the company knew about asbestos in its baby powder for decades.
Apple stock slid 3.2 percent after top analysts from TF International Securities cut iPhone shipment estimates by 20 percent.
On the economic front, U.S. retail sales increased 0.2 percent last month, led by online stores, the Commerce Department said on Friday. The reading beat market expectations.
Meanwhile, U.S. industrial production rose 0.6 percent in November, topping market forecasts as gains in mining and utilities offset declines in manufacturing, according to the Federal Reserve.