With the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing report and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Situation Summary both weaker than analysts' consensus estimates on Friday, U.S. stocks closed a holiday-shortened trading week by dropping like so many hot pennies scattered in cold snow.

For the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dived 274.88 points, or 2.22 percent, to 12,118.57, its lowest closing level of the year; the S&P 500 index plunged 32.29 points, or 2.46 percent, to 1,278.04; and the Nasdaq Composite index tumbled 79.86 points, or 2.82 percent, to 2,747.48.

Pointing to market participants continuing their move into lower-risk vehicles and out of higher-risk ones, the S&P 500's utilities sector was the strongest, and its financials sector was the weakest.

For the week, the Dow Jones dropped 336.26 points, or 2.70 percent; the S&P 500 fell 39.78 points, or 3.02 percent; and the Nasdaq sank 90.05 points, or 3.17 percent.