Last Updated Sep 25, 2014 12:02 PM EDT
NEW YORK - Technology companies are leading a broad drop in U.S. stocks that has pulled the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 200 points. The steep decline comes a day after the market had its best day in more than a month.
Apple (AAPL) dropped more than 3 percent after the company pulled a software update for its iPhones late Wednesday after users complained that they weren't able to make calls.
As of 12:00 p.m. ET, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 27 points to 1,971. The Dow slumped 222 points, or 1.3 percent, to 16,988. The Nasdaq composite, which is dominated by technology companies, dropped 78 points to 4,477. Tech stocks also fell the most among the 10 industries in the S&P 500 index.
Apple's stock dropped following news that the tech giant had to pull a software update that prevented users from making phone calls. Others complained that they bent their new iPhones by sitting on them. Apple dropped $3.43, or 3 percent, to $98.32.
Trading has turned turbulent this week, marking an abrupt break from a sleepy summer. Concerns about slowing growth in China and falling U.S. home sales knocked the market back on Monday, giving the S&P 500 its biggest one-day drop in more than a month. Health-care stocks led a rebound Wednesday, and the S&P 500 closed with its biggest one-day gain in more than a month.
Claims for unemployment benefits crept up last week. The Labor Department said Thursday that 293,000 people applied for benefits, but that was slightly lower than economists' forecasts. The less volatile four-week average fell for the second straight week to 298,500. A separate report said businesses orders for equipment plunged last month, mainly a result of a drop in orders for commercial aircraft.
"The economic numbers were negative, but not alarming and don't change the direction of the economy at this time," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Financial. "We're down rather sharply and it looks like we're giving up all of the gains we made yesterday," he said. "It's one step forward and one step back."
Investors have been looking at economic reports for any signs that the improving economy could lead the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates. Next week, further clues will emerge from a several key pieces of data, including the job market report for September.
"The existence of major fundamental risks next week means that there is some caution ahead with many unsure of the direction that markets should be heading," said Joshua Mahony, research analyst at Alpari.
In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 1.7 percent while the CAC-40 in France fell 1.3 percent. The FTSE 100 index of big British companies dropped 1.1 percent.
The dollar has been gaining on other major currencies. The Fed is widely expected to start raising interest rates, a contrast to the current stance of the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan. On Thursday, the euro fell 0.2 percent to $1.275. The dollar fell to 108.73 yen.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 22 cents to $92.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 2.52 percent from 2.57 percent late Wednesday.