Stocks accelerated their losses in the final minutes of trading to close sharply in the red for the fourth-straight session Monday after last week's disappointing jobs report raised concerns over the strength of the economy.
Stocks had modestly clawed back from their lows throughout the afternoon after tumbling heavily at the open.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average logged a decline for the fourth-consecutive session, tumbling 130.55 points, or 1.00 percent, to end at 12,929.59, led by Disney and BofA .
The blue-chip index is below its 50-day moving average for the first time since December.
The S&P 500 declined 15.88 points, or 1.14 percent, to close at 1,382.20. The Nasdaq slumped 33.42 points, or 1.08 percent, to finish at 3,047.08.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended above 18 after earlier spiking to a one-month high.
All 10 S&P sectors closed firmly in negative territory, led by banks and industrials.
Trading volume was the second lightest this year, with only a total of 3.14 billion shares exchanging hands on the NYSE today.
Stocks suffered their biggest weekly decline in 2012 last week amid worries over the euro zone and disappointment over the Fed's toned down the likelihood for further quantitative easing.
“If the economy is slowing and the pace of jobs growth is slowing, then it’s not consistent with the stock market’s recent rally," said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners. “And so I’d expect there to be a selloff that’s going to take us down 5 to 7 percent.”
U.S. payrolls rose far less than expected in March, with employers adding 120,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department. The gain was the smallest increase in five months and fell short of expectations for a gain of 203,000, according to a Reuters poll.
The report cast doubts over the ability of the U.S. to help boost the global economy amid Europe's resurfacing debt crisis woes and worries over China's slowing economy. (Read More: What Slowdown? China Already 'Reaccelerating' )
Some strategists even said the weak jobs report could renew hopes for more stimulus from the Federal Reserve .
"Considering 70 percent of all jobs created over the past six months are of the low-income variety, seeing this disappointing print doesn't bode well for the health of the U.S. economy," said Todd Schoenberger, managing principal of The BlackBay Group. "Question marks about earnings growth for companies and further acceleration in GDP remain unanswered with [the jobs] data."
Apple reversed their early losses even after BTIG downgraded the tech giant to "neutral" from "buy," citing possible pricing pressures that may force the company to cut prices on its iPhone and following a sharp runup in the stock this year.
Also among techs, AOL surged after the Internet services company agreed to sell 800 of its patentsand related applications to Microsoft , in a deal valued at about $1.06 billion in cash. At least two brokerages raised their price target on AOL.
Major media companies declined after Citigroup slashed its ratings on CBS , Discovery , Disney and News Corp to "neutral" from "buy." Time Warner also slipped even after Citigroup boosted its price target on the company to $45 from $40.
Earnings season kicks off this week, with Dow component Alcoa slated to post after-the-bell on Tuesday. Google and JPMorgan are also scheduled to report thorughout the week.
“Earnings expectations have been going down , so it’s easier to meet lowered expectations,” noted Landesman. “On the other hand, when earnings aren’t growing quickly, people take down growth rates.”
Avon named Sherilyn McCoy as its new CEO . The cosmetic company's current CEO Andrea Jung will become executive chairman. Last week Avon received an unsolicited $10 billion takeover bidfrom privately-held fragrance company Coty.
Most European markets remained closed for the Easter holiday and are scheduled to reopen for trading Tuesday.
—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC —
Coming Up This Week:
TUESDAY: NFIB small biz optimism index, wholesale trade, Atlanta Fed pres speaks, 3-yr note auction, Minneapolis Fed pres speaks; Earnings from Alcoa and interim results from ChevronWEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, import & export prices, Kansas City Fed pres speaks, oil inventories, Boston Fed pres speaks, 10-yr note auction, Fed's Beige Book, St. Louis Fed pres speaks, Carnival shareholders meeting; Earnings from ProgressiveTHURSDAY: International trade, jobless claims, PPI, Philadelphia Fed pres speaks, 30-yr bond auction, Minneapolis Fed pres speaks; Earnings from Rite Aid, GoogleFRIDAY: CPI, consumer sentiment, Bernanke speaks; Earnings from JPMorgan, Wells Fargo
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