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Stocks rise on tech gains, strong earnings

Traders work on the floor of the

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Stocks soared on the last trading day of January, with Microsoft, Visa and other tech stocks making the biggest gains in a broad market rally.

The Dow Jones industrial average surged 396.66 points, or 2.5 percent, to 16,466.30.

Indexes rose throughout the day and finished with their biggest gains in about five months. Asian stocks jumped after the Bank of Japan moved to stimulate the economy, and European markets also rose.

In the U.S, tech stocks climbed following strong fourth-quarter results from Microsoft and Visa. Materials companies and banks also made large gains, and the price of oil rose for the fourth day in a row.

The U.S. government said Friday that the economy slowed in the fourth quarter, a possibility that had worried investors. But its estimate of the country’s gross domestic product was about equal to analysts’ forecasts and didn’t hurt stocks.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 46.88 points, or 2.5 percent, to 1,940.24, as more than 480 of its component stocks rose. The Nasdaq composite index jumped 107.28 points, or 2.4 percent, to 4,613.95.

Stocks made some big gains in the last two weeks, but still finished January with hefty losses.

The beginning of the year was the worst in the history of the Dow average and the S&P 500 index. Both fell into a correction, or a drop of at least 10 percent from a recent peak.

In January, the Dow and S&P 500 both fell more than 5 percent, while the Nasdaq lost almost 8 percent. The Russell finished January down almost 9 percent.

Crude oil prices kept rising. Benchmark U.S. oil added 40 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $33.62 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, gained 85 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $34.74. Oil prices have increased for four days in a row as investors hope for cuts in global production.

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