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But stocks attempted a turnaround late in the session and managed to cut their losses.

The ISM report is only one report, said Michelle Clayman, chief investment officer at New Amsterdam Partners, suggesting the initial reaction may have been overblown. And while growth is undoubtedly slowing, she said the economy isn't necessarily headed for a so-called hard landing.

A separate report released Friday showed construction spending fell more than expected in October, reflecting cooling in the housing sector.

The manufacturing and construction readings come on the heels of a report issued Thursday that showed contraction in business activity in the Midwest.

Next week, another string of reports hit the market. The one likely to garner the most attention will be the monthly employment report due on Friday. Readings on factory orders and consumer sentiment also are on tap.