Heading into February, the major indexes were down for 2014, investor sentiment was low, and the pundits warned of a further pullback. After a remarkable 2013, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) had already lost more than 5% for the year, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) was off by 3.55% and the Nasdaq (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) was down 1.74%.

But when everyone is saying one thing and expects it to happen, we usually end up with the exact opposite. We've all seen it happen, and February was just the latest example. The major indexes were expected to continue falling for the month, but instead they rose. Let's look at what happened in February, week by week.


February Week 1

February Week 2

February Week 3

February Week 4

February Total Change

Dow Jones

95 points, 0.6%

360 points, 2.28%

(51 points), (0.31%)

218 points, 1.35%

622.86 points, 3.96%

S&P 500

14 points, 0.8%

41 points, 2.31%

(2 points), (0.12%)

23 points, 1.26%

76.86 points, 4.31%


21 points, 0.53%

118 points, 2.86%

19 points, 0.45%

44 points, 1.04%

204.24, 4.97%

Data based on author's calculations.

The Nasdaq didn't have a single losing week. The Dow and S&P 500 each had just one week of small losses.

After a forgettable January, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are back in the black for 2014. The Nasdaq is the big winner so far in 2014, up more than 131 points, or 3.14%. The S&P, meanwhile, just hit a record high of 1,859, up 11 points, or 0.6% on the year. The Dow, however, is still climbing the hill. At 16,321, it's off 254 points, or 1.5%, from the start of 2014.

What can we take away from this? Well, with January down and February up, the latter in spite of the pundits' expectations, investors should brace for the possibility of high volatility this year. We're coming off a few good years for the market, and stocks appear to be fairly valued, if not sometimes overvalued. But it can also be a reminder that while the markets do fall, they always come back -- and given enough time, they move higher than they were before the downturn.

In other words, investors with a long-term outlook should be able to sleep soundly at night and calmly ride out the next pullback, correction, or crash.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.