Major stock indexes post biggest January gains in 15 years

Diane Alter – AHN News Reporter

New York, NY, United States (AHN) – January was good for stocks and commodities.

Major stock indexes in the United States closed out the first month of the year with the largest gains in 15 years.

While the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 20.81 points Tuesday, the last day of January, the Dow rose 3.4 percent for the month, the biggest increase since 1997. The Dow advanced 415.35 points in January, the most on record.

Signs of accelerating growth both here in the U.S. and abroad fueled the gains.

Also turning in impressive gains in January was a basket of commodities.

Corn, oil, tin, aluminum and other industrial metals that can serve as manufacturing barometers gained by double digits in percentage terms in January after steep declines last year.

Precious metals also glistened brighter in January. Gold glowed, finishing the month up 11 percent, and silver looked even more radiant, posting a 19 percent gain during the first month of 2012,

The broad-based gains in commodities mark a sterling reversal from the fourth quarter of 2011, when commodities prices tumbled along with risky assets.

Some investors are betting that further gains are to be had, believing the U.S. economy is gathering steam and momentum. In addition, market participants are counting on China and other fast growing Asian economies to remain heavy and hearty consumers of the raw materials needed to build homes, cars, appliances and consumer electronics. There is also the mindset that precious metal bugs will continue to take a shine to metals including gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

Stocks, and commodities in particular, are notoriously volatile, so ups and downs are expected, and even encouraged, by some.

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