Stocks fell for a fifth day Friday on concern that Washington lawmakers will fail to reach a budget deal before a self-imposed year-end deadline.
The five-day losing streak for the Dow Jones industrial average was the longest since July.
The Dow dropped 158.20 points to 12,938.11 points, with losses accelerating in the last 20 minutes of trading as reports circulated that President Barack Obama would not be making a new budget proposal in a meeting with congressional leaders.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.10 percent to 1,402.43, its longest losing streak in three months, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.86 percent to 2,960.31.
"The reality, late in the day, is that a deal is just not going to get done," said Ryan Detrick, a senior technical strategist at Schaeffer Investment Research. "We could be greeted by a big sell-off at the start of January."
"I can't wait till this [budget deal] is done, so we can start talking about markets again and not just about politics," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management.
Cote doesn't expect lawmakers to reach a deal before the deadline and says that when people assess the extent of tax increases on the way, "the market is going reel." -- AP