In this Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, photo, specialist John O'Hara works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. An unexpected contraction in the U.S. economy at the end of 2012 weighed on world markets Thursday Jan. 31, 2013 ahead of closely-watched jobs figures. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Updated: January 31, 2013 3:54PM
NEW YORK — Stocks drifted lower Thursday, but the Standard & Poor’s 500 still logged its best January since 1997.
The Standard and Poor’s 500 fell 4 points to 1,498, gaining 5.1 percent for the month. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 50 points to 13,860. It’s up 5.8 percent this month.
The Nasdaq composite fell a fraction to 3,142. It’s up 4.1 percent this month.
Stocks got a small lift early Thursday from a report on business activity in the Chicago area before drifting lower. The Chicago Business Barometer for January came in at 55.6, a higher reading than analysts had forecast. Readings above 50 indicate that economic activity is expanding.
Advancing stocks on the New York Stock Exchange outpaced declining ones. Volume of 3.9 billion shares was above average.