Stocks tumbled in the final hour of trading as investors took profits ahead of a government jobs report on Friday, and as energy shares extended losses after crude oil plunged below $100.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 140 points, after sinking more than 200.
Among Dow components, ExxonMobil, Alcoa and Chevron slid, while Cisco traded flat.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both declined. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market,rose more than 9 percent to nearly 19.
All key S&P 500 sectors fell, led by energy, telecom and materials.
"People are a little bit nervous in front of tomorrow’s nonfarm payroll report," said Kenneth Polcari, managing director at ICAP Equities.
That's especially because the job news earlier in the week wasn't good, as investors absorbed news of a slowdown in private sector jobs and an unexpected jump in nonfarm payrolls, Polcari said.
While the broader market was higher for a good part of the day, there was "no real sense of strength" in the market, he said.
"And then….sellers took advantage once again of any perceived strength and said it's time to take money off the table," Polcari said. He added, however, that while the market was down significantly, the losses didn't compare to the sharp drops in commodity prices, and there was little sense of panic.Page 1 of 7 | Next Page