The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq plunged Friday afternoon, undoing most of Thursday's spectacular gains.
After ending Thursday up more than 550 points, the Dow closed down 337.94 points, or 3.82%, at 8,497.31 Friday. The S&P 500 closed down 38.00, or 4.17%, at 873.29. The Nasdaq lost 79.85, or 5%, to close at 1,516.85.
All categories of technology fell on a day that marked continued volatility and a return to huge reversals in the last hour of trading. Chips, Internet, and software companies were hit hardest as bad news drove down prices from all corners of the globe.
Sun Microsystems announced that it would cut 6,000 jobs, or 18% of its workforce, and reorganize its software business. The company announced a $1.68 billion loss in its most recent quarter. Its stocks, however, posted a 0.98% gain to close at $4.12 after the news. That's still about 80% lower than the value the stocks held last year.
Nokia predicts slowing sales, as do several cell phone companies and the companies that make parts for cell phones.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales declined 2.8% in October, their worse loss on record and more than the 2.1% drop that economists had predicted. It beat the record of 2.65% decline after Sept. 11, 2001.
Retailers predict a weak holiday shopping season ahead, and, from a conference in Germany, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said "challenges remain" as the financial markets and economic reports continue to show signs of struggle.
Some of the selling also was prompted by looming deadlines for cashing hedge funds.