Stocks fell on Friday, extending a slide to 12-year lows, on a sell-off in shares of big-cap technology companies after a brokerage cut its price target and profit views for bellwether Apple Inc .

Shares of iPod and iPhone maker Apple fell 6.6 percent to $82.94 on Nasdaq, pulling the index below its November 21 intraday low to the lowest since March 2003 and fueling selling in other tech bellwethers including International Business Machines Corp , which was off 2.5 percent at $85.28.

JPMorgan cut its price target and profit views on Apple, saying the next few quarters could be bumpy.

Tech has been outperforming across the board for the last couple weeks. We've really noticed a divergence in tech versus the general market, said Dave Lutz, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus in Baltimore. So I think you probably have some more speculative money that seems to be pulling out now.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 41.42 points, or 0.63 percent, to 6,553.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> lost 6.56 points, or 0.96 percent, to 675.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> shed 22.37 points, or 1.72 percent, to 1,277.22.

In economic news, a government report showed the U.S. unemployment rate rose to a 25-year high last month as companies buckled under the strain of a recession that shows no signs of abating.

Shares of chip-maker Qualcomm slid 4.2 percent to $32.18, making it the second-worst Nasdaq drag behind Apple.

Wells Fargo , however, rose more than 6 percent to $8.62 after the bank cut its dividend, spurring some optimism that banks are taking steps to strengthen balance sheets.

(Additional reporting by Leah Schnurr and Ellis Mnyandu)