January Ends on Low Note Dragged Down by Techs

Ending a six-month winning streak, the Dow Jones industrial average closed nearly 4 percent down at the end of January, being its largest monthly point loss since February 2009. Despite data revealing that the economy had experienced encouraging growth in late 2009, jittery investors were concerned about the slow pace of recovery and indicated a loss of confidence in the technology sector with a sell-off of primarily Apple and Microsoft shares. Certainly January was a disappointment to many stock market players who were hopeful that 2010 would be somewhat rosier than the past 18 months or so.

Apple may have been anticipating that their new iPad tablet computer would boost its image and sales, which it did to some extent, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the company ending the week down 2.9 percent. Microsoft experienced a 3.4 percent drop despite earlier reports of increased profit.

The < strong>DJIA fell 0.5 percent, or 53.13 points, closing at 10,067.33, with gains in Home Depot, Wal-Mart and DuPont offsetting technical sector losses to a degree. The S&P 500 closed at 1073.87, being 3.7 percent down for the month. The tech-oriented NASDAQ composite index fared the worst of the three major indices, falling 1.5 percent, or 31.65 points, on Friday and ending the week down 2.6 percent at 2147.35.

Since peaking on Jan 19 after rising more than 60 percent following March 2009 lows, stocks have been heading down, emphasizing recent concerns that the economy is in the process of a ‘double dip’. Stock market investors are wondering whether markets will settle down to a more gentle ebb and flow, or whether they are in the midst of a downward trend that would result in more losses. With the tumultuous manner in which markets have been performing for some time now, it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict what to expect, even for the most seasoned broker/investor.