Investors may be lulled into a false sense of security by this market.
Just two U.S. equity indices had a positive January. The Dow Jones Utility Average rose an impressive 5.80%, and the PHLX Gold/Silver index advanced 1.47%. A different kind of benchmark did much better than that: the CBOE VIX. The “fear index” gained 10.93% in January to end the month at 20.20. Paralleling the Dow’s five-and-a-half percent fall, the two other major U.S. stock indices posted big monthly retreats, as evidenced by the Y-T-D column below. The Russell 2000 lost 8.85% in January, falling to a settlement of 1,035.38 as trading ended for the month on January 29. The Dow closed at 16,466.30 that day, the S&P at 1,940.24, and the Nasdaq at 4,613.95.