A spike in borrowing costs for the Spanish government renewed worries about Europe's debt crisis and pushed stocks lower for the second day in a row.
A stalemate in Congress over cutting the budget deficit also pulled the market down Thursday. Technology stocks sank after NetApp and Applied Materials predicted weaker earnings.
In Spain, an auction of 10-year government bonds left the country paying interest rates of nearly 7 percent. Greece and Ireland received rescue loans from the European Union after their bond yields jumped above the same level. Concerns about Europe's debt crisis overshadowed better economic reports in the U.S. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest level in 7 months, a sign layoffs are easing.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 134.86 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 11,770.73.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 20.75, or 1.7 percent, to 1,216.16.
The Nasdaq composite fell 51.62, or 2 percent, to 2,587.99.
For the week:
The Dow is down 382.95, or 3.2 percent.
The S&P 500 is down 47.69, or 3.8 percent.
The Nasdaq is down 90.76, or 3.4 percent.
For the year to date:
The Dow is up 193.22, or 1.7 percent.
The S&P 500 is down 41.48, or 3.3 percent.
The Nasdaq is down 64.88, or 2.4 percent.