NEW YORK — Stock investors were hit from all sides in January.
Concerns about the global economy and U.S. company earnings, as well as turmoil in emerging markets, led major indexes to their worst month in two years. However, many investors remain hopeful that the problems in January will not spill over into the rest of 2014.
They even see this month's downturn as healthy, given the U.S. market's torrid 30 percent rise last year.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 5.3 percent in January, the worst start to a year since 2009. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.6 percent this month and the Nasdaq composite fell 2 percent.
Investors entered the year with some degree of skepticism and nervousness. The stock market went basically straight up in 2013. The S&P 500 index ended 2013 with a gain of nearly 30 percent, its best year since 1997.
"No amount of negative news could derail the market last year," said Jonathan Corpina, a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange with Meridan Equity Partners.
But no stock market can go straight up forever.
Many investors expected 2014 to be a more muddled and volatile for the market. Market strategists late last year were looking for the S&P 500 index to notch a modest gain of 4 percent to 6 percent, ending in the range of 1,850 to 1,900.
Investors were also looking for more pullbacks this year and possibly a correction, the technical term for when a stock market index like the S&P 500 falls 10 percent or more. Three months ago, analysts at Goldman Sachs said there was roughly a 60 percent chance that a correction would happen this year.
"People did look at these stock market valuations at the beginning of the year with a degree of nervousness," said David Kelly, chief market strategist with J.P. Morgan Funds. "A correction would probably be healthy for the market."