U.S. stocks fell for a fifth consecutive day on Friday as the prospects of the "fiscal cliff" were still uncertain.
So far, the main stock indexes notched the longest losing streak in three months as the fiscal gridlock loomed.
Wall Street opened lower as hope was fading for a budget deal. Later on, the stocks were partly underpinned by the positive economic data.
The index of pending home sales rose 1.7 percent in November from October, the highest reading since April 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. Existing or previously owned homes account for more than 90 percent of the housing market.
New-home sales also rose 4.4 percent in November to a highest level since April 2010, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index jumped to 51.6 in December, a four-month high, gaining for a third straight month. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.
Democratic and Republican sources involved in negotiations reported some progress Friday toward a potential deal averting the "fiscal cliff" ahead of an afternoon summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders.
However, in the late session, the stocks accelerated their losses after choppy trading as the markets were closely watching the progress of budget negotiations among U.S. political leaders.
Hewlett-Packard dropped 2.42 percent after it acknowledged late Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice was probing into its allegations of accounting fraud at its Autonomy division.
Apple lost 1.10 percent after it was ordered to pay 165,000 U.S. dollars to eight Chinese writers and two companies for distribution of unlicensed works through Apple's on-line store.
The energy sector was the top decliner among the S&P 500 index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 158.20 points, or 1. 21 percent, to 13,938.11. The broad-market S&P 500 index slid 15. 67 points, or 1.10 percent, to 1,402.43. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 25.60 points, or 0.86 percent, to 2,960.31.