Stocks ended a disappointing January with a loss as investors questioned whether the economy will be able to sustain its big fourth-quarter growth rate. Downbeat earnings at technology companies also pulled stocks down.
Investors who are increasingly uneasy about the economy, earnings and politics have been pulling money out of the market over the past week.
Many market watchers believe January sets the tone for stocks for the rest of the year. Since 1950, the Standard & Poor's 500's full-year direction has matched its January performance more than 90 percent of the time, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac.
Still, the January barometer, as some call it, isn't fool-proof. Last year, when the market had its worst January ever, the Dow fell 11.4 percent for the month, and then went on to post an 18.8 percent gain for all of 2009.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 53.13 points, or 0.5 percent, Friday to 10,067.33. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 10.66, or 1 percent, to 1,073.87, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 31.65, or 1.5 percent, to 2,147.35. - AP