S&P 500 posts best January since '87, Dow best since '89

New year, new stock market...

After a bruising December, the worst since 1931, investors got their groove back in January diving back into the U.S. stock market and ringing up January returns not seen in about thirty years.

The S&P 500 jumped nearly 8 percent, the best action since 1987, while the Dow's 7 percent rise was the best since 1989. The Nasdaq also fared well gaining nearly 10 percent, the best since 2001, as tracked by Dow Jones Market Data Group.

For investors who follow market trends, this performance bodes well for 2019.  The “January Barometer”, detailed in the Stock Trader’s Almanac, follows the belief that “as January goes, so goes the year.”

“Let’s remember that coming into the new year, recession was on everyone’s mind. With a little relief in the markets, this has dissipated and that helps stocks rally. We will see if it lasts” Michael Block, managing director and market strategist at Third Seven Advisors, tells FOX Business.com

To Block’s point, recession talk has cooled off a bit, with several high powered CEOs dismissing a full blown downturn.

“The confusion in the environment right now is, is it a slowdown or is it going into a recession?” said Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan at The World Economic Forum in Davos.  “Nothing we see says it’s close to recession. Our experts don’t see it and our behavior in the consumers, especially in the consumer-led economy, you’re seeing that grow at 5, 6 percent in January so far...very strong" he added.


Blackstone CEO Steve Schwartzman, also at Davos, echoed something similar. "I don't see any recession. I don't know where that came from the last two months of the year. Consumer confidence is down a little bit, which I think comes from some of the dysfunction, but they are still spending a lot of money," Schwarzman noted.

With many Americans working, consumers may continue to spend. The unemployment rate is near a 50-year low at 4 percent and January’s jobs data reinforced that the labor market is red hot. U.S. employers added 304,000 workers, blowing past expectations of 165,000.

And then there’s the Federal Reserve. On Wednesday, Chairman Powell, as expected, skipped a rate hike and signaled that policymakers would be “patient” with future rate hikes which sent stocks higher.

“The Fed has made it known that the best thing they can do is “do no harm”... We saw that from Powell yesterday – that is the guiding principle and it’s guiding markets higher now” Block added.

Suzanne O'Halloran is Managing Editor of FOXBusiness.com and is a graduate of Boston College. Follow her on Twitter @suzohalloran