And even if the market rises only modestly from here, it could still make for a strong year. As Howard Silverblatt, an analyst at S&P, notes, January performance is a good indicator of annual performance. In 61 of the last 84 years the direction of the market in the first month matched the direction of the market for the year.

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AP Business Writer Steve Rothwell contributed to this report.

Follow Jonathan Fahey on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey.

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