Stocks were under pressure during a shortened trading session Friday amid lingering uncertainty surrounding Europe's debt worries and a warning from North Korea.
TheDow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 70 points, led by Alcoa , JPMorgan and Chevron . Cisco was among the only gainers on the blue-chip index.
The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were also lower. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, was trading above 21.
All key S&P sectors were under pressure, led by materials, energy and financials.
Volume has been on the light side as U.S. stock markets will close at 1 pm EST following the Thanksgiving holiday.
In Europe, the Portuguese government denied a news report suggesting it's being pressured into seeking a bailout from other euro zone countries and the European Central Bank, but market jitters continued.
Another report said the International Monetary Fund and European Union were considering plans to force senior bondholders to foot some of the bill for bailing out Ireland's banks.
European shares were sharply lower across the board on the back of the reports. Asian stocks were also in the red with South Korea's Kospi index seeing the worst of the declines.
The dollar rose against other major currencies, sending the price of oil down near $83 a barreland gold down below $1,355 an ounce.
China warned against military acts near its coastline ahead of U.S.-South Korean naval exercises that North Korea said risked pushing the region towards war, further rattling investors. The North shelled a South Korean island earlier this week.
Fears over debt spiraling out of control were expressed in the U.S. too, with FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair writing, in an op-ed in the Washington Post, that the next crisis could start from Washington if the US does not work to cut its debt.