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.

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  • 10. August 4th, 2011

    Dow Jones drops 513 points, or 4.3 percent

  • 9. October 22nd, 2008

    Dow Jones drops 514 points, or 5.7 percent

  • 8. October 27th, 1997

    Dow Jones drops 554 points, or 7.2 percent

  • 7. April 14th, 2000

    Dow Jones drops 618 points, or 5.7 percent

  • 6. August 8th, 2011

    Dow Jones drops 634.76 points, or 5.6 percent

  • 5. October 9th, 2008

    Dow Jones drops 679 points, or 7.3 percent

  • 4. December 1st, 2008

    Dow Jones drops 680 points, or 7.7 percent

  • 3. September 17th, 2001

    Dow Jones drops 685 points, or 7.1 percent

  • 2. October 15th, 2008

    Dow Jones drops 733 points, or 7.9 percent

  • 1. September 29th, 2008

    Dow Jones drops 778 points, or 7 percent