Despite positive signs for the economy, Wall Street turned in its third losing week in a row -- which meant a loss for the month as well.
The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index were off less than 1 percent for the week but ended January with losses of about 3 percent.
The Nasdaq composite index, which had been charging ahead of the rest of the market, swung back to a 1.6 percent loss for the week, which gave it a 1 percent loss for the month.
Middle East malaise rather than market fundamentals seems to be the problem. Economic reports still show the economy holding its own or growing very slowly, and fourth-quarter profit reports are coming in better than expected. More than 60 percent of the S&P companies that have reported earnings have beaten analysts' projections. Those positives, however, continue to be outweighed by the threat of war.
So far stocks have gotten no apparent benefit from the White House proposal to cut taxes on corporate dividends, which some experts had predicted would give the market a lift.
But the tax-advantaged savings plan to be unveiled with the president's budget tomorrow would give families new incentives to save and may turn out to be a better tonic for Wall Street.
-- Jerry Knight