Best January for stocks since 1997

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NEW YORK (AP) ? It’s the best start for stocks in 15 years.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 each finished with their biggest January gains since 1997. Stocks jumped on the first trading day of the year and made a slow climb from there.

There was a dip at the end, though. The Dow fell 21 points on Tuesday to close at 12,632. Traders were discouraged by unexpectedly weak consumer confidence figures. The S&P closed down a fraction of a point, and the Nasdaq gained two.

Advancers and decliners were about even on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was a little higher than average lately at 4.1 billion shares.

The S&P ended the month up 4.4 percent.