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After a rough January, stock extends decline

Modified: February 3, 2014 at 9:39 pm •  Published: February 3, 2014
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There were signs of worry throughout the market. The VIX index, a measure of stock market volatility, rose to its highest level since December 2012. Investors shifted into U.S. government bonds, pushing yields lower and continuing their decline since the start of the year.

Staffing company Robert Half International fell the most among stocks in the S&P 500 index. CarMax and Pfizer were among the few stocks to eke out gains on the day.

Cold U.S. weather emerged as common problem for the economy last month.

Investors were discouraged Monday by a private survey showing U.S. manufacturing barely expanded last month as frigid temperatures delayed shipments of raw materials and caused some factories to shut down. Construction spending rose modestly in December, slowing from healthy gains a month earlier.

Automakers also piled on the disappointing news, as an icy January slowed vehicle purchases. Ford and General Motors reported a drop in U.S. January sales.