The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3 percent in January, its worse monthly performance in a year, according to a Jan. 31 Herald-Dispatch (Huntington, WV) news report.
While the U.S. economy continued to show signs of strength, energy companies suffered from a sharp drop in oil prices and some big multinational companies saw their earnings dinged by a stronger dollar. On Jan. 30, investors also weighed the consequences of a slowdown in U.S. economic growth and how further strength in the dollar could dent corporate profits.
The U.S. federal government said that the economy grew 2.6 percent in the last quarter of 2014, as weaker government and business spending held growth back. The decline was unexpected and down from a gain of 4.6 percent in the second quarter and 5 percent in the third quarter.
According to Herald-Dispatch, others news signaled the steady health of the U.S. economy. Consumer spending surged in the final three months of 2014, while the the Labor Department reported that wages and benefits rose last year by 2.2 percent, the biggest calendar-year increase since 2008.
The Street reported that over the first three weeks of the year the S&P 500 traded in at least a 1% range every day. By way of comparison, this only occurred 79 times over 2014. “Thus far in 2015, volatility is higher across the currency, equity and fixed income markets largely fueled by fears of growth, several international events and earnings season uncertainty,” said Wells Fargo analysts in a note.
At the end of the day Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 251.90 points, or 1.5 percent, to close at 17,164.95. The S&P 500 index lost 26.26 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,994.99. The Nasdaq composite fell 48.17 points, or 1 percent, to 4,635.24. Nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 fell, with utilities declining the most.