Markets close down on slip in GDP

Trader Jonathan Corpina, right, works on the floor

Trader Jonathan Corpina, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Markets were steady Jan. 30, before the U.S. Federal Reserve's first policy statement of the year, which has the potential to indicate a shift in its monetary stance. (Jan. 25, 2013) (Credit: AP )

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Worries about the economy have slowed a January stock rally.

After a month of impressive gains that brought the Dow within 200 points of a record, the markets have paused this week. Stocks started the day lower Wednesday after a report showed that the U.S. economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter. That decline extended after the Federal Reserve said that it would continue to try to boost growth through a bond-buying program designed to keep borrowing costs down.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 44 points to close at 13,910.42, logging only its second decline in nine days. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.39 percent to 1,501.96, its biggest decline since Dec. 28. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.36 percent to 3,142.31.

The Fed said it would keep buying $85 billion of bonds a month.

"When you've spent this much money trying to prop up an economy and you still come up with a negative print, that's bad news," said Joe Saluzzi of Themis Trading.

Still, stocks remain on track for a great January. The Dow Jones average has surged 6.2 percent since the start of the year, climbing close to 14,000 and within touching distance of its record level. -- AP

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