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Stocks close with strong gains

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 28, 2014 on Wall Street. Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

If 2013 was a year where the stock market went straight up, 2014 has started off as a year where the stock market moves sideways.

After stocks rose Monday, the Standard & Poor's 500 ended the first three months of 2013 with a gain of 1.3 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.7 percent so far this year, and the Nasdaq composite is up 0.5 percent. It was the S&P 500's worst quarter since the fourth quarter of 2012.

It was all about safety this quarter.

There was plenty for investors to worry about in the first three months of the year, from tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and the winter storms that froze the U.S. economy in January and February.

As a result, investors focused their attention on buying and holding "safe" investments, such as bonds, dividend-paying stocks, and gold.

Utility and health care stocks, which are considered defensive investments, rose 9 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, in the quarter.

Monday, the Dow rose 134.60 points to 16,457.66, the S&P 500 rose 0.79 percent to 1,872.34, and the Nasdaq composite rose 1.04 percent to 4,198.99. -- AP

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