) -- Stocks plunged Friday as concerns of slowing global economic growth deepened investor fears of a double-dip recession in the United States.

The sell-off pushed the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

to close below the 12,000 mark for the first time since March 18, and sent the

Nasdaq Composite

into negative territory for the year.

The Dow ended down 181 points, or 1.4%, to 11,955, getting a slight bounce off a session low of 11,937. The

S&P 500

shed 18 points, or 1.4%, at 1271, and the Nasdaq lost 40 points, or 1.5%, at 2645.

Lackluster economic data from overseas and a subsequent

slump in world stocks provided a catalyst for the selling. China's trade surplus in May came in lower than expected, while British industrial production in April saw a steeper-than-projected decline.

The uninspiring economic outlook from the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report and an increase in jobless claims, both reported on Thursday, left markets struggling to find a reason to claw upwards.

The financial sector was a drag on the major averages for much of the session as the

Federal Reserve

announced plans to expand checks on capital levels at 35 of the nation's largest banks. The

KBW Banker Index

was down nearly 2% at one point but staged a rebound to just below the flat line following reports that the central bank's surcharge plans may not be severe as originally anticipated.

Of the 3.4 billion shares trading on the New York Stock Exchange, 78% fell while about 22% rose. 1.7 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq.

Within the Dow, 27 of the blue-chip index's 30 components ended in the red.


(TRV) - Get Report


Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report



(PFE) - Get Report

were among the biggest laggards.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report


JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report



(T) - Get Report

settled slightly higher.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that import and export prices each rose by 0.2% for May, after growth of 2.1% and 0.9%, respectively, in April. The gain suggested inflation pressures from abroad were negatively affecting the U.S.

"Unless there is a catalyst to take us back up, the path of least resistance is on the downside," said Jay Suskind, a senior vice president at Duncan Williams. "The latest economic numbers have been 'tepid at best,' so the concern over a possible double-dip recession remains the underlying factor behind the weak market," he said.

Shares of

Lululemon Athletica

(LULU) - Get Report

rose 4.4% to $89.94 after the

athletic apparel company reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings.


(GT) - Get Report

agreed to sell its global wire business to South Korean tire reinforcements company Hyosung for about $50 million. Goodyear's stock dropped 6.7% to $14.99.

In its first outlook since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March,


(TM) - Get Report

said it

expects earnings for the year ending in March 2012 to decline by 31%. Shares shed 1.5% to $80.68.


(GOOG) - Get Report


in talks to buy display advertising company


for about $400 million, according to a

New York Times

report. Google's stock ticked 1.4% lower to $509.51.

On Friday afternoon, the Treasury Department announced that its deficit in May decreased to $57.6 billion. The report came well below expectations for a $140 billion deficit gap. The lower the deficit, the less Treasury notes and bonds the government needs to sell, which often puts a upwards trend on bond prices.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 9/32, diluting the yield to 2.969%. The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.9%.


tanked Friday due to spillover effects from a stronger U.S. dollar. Gold settled about down about 1% to a one-week low while the price of Silver lost 3.2%.

The July crude oil contract shed $2.87 trade at $99.06 a barrel.

The FTSE in London was declining 1.6% and the DAX in Frankfurt was down by 1.3%. Japan's Nikkei added 0.5% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.8%.


-- Written by Chao Deng in New York