Stocks soared on the last trading day of January, led by big gains in technology companies after Microsoft turned in a strong quarter. Visa and MasterCard also joined the rally in technology Friday, and several other companies also surged on strong earnings. Consol Energy jumped along with the price of natural gas. The gains, as big as they were, weren't enough to make up for a dismal start to the year. US indexes are still down sharply for January following the worst beginning to a year on record.
On Friday the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 396 points, or 2.5%, to 16,466. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shot up 46 points, or 2.5%, to 1,940. The Nasdaq composite climbed 107 points, or 2.4%, to 4,613.