As January comes to a close, the stock market is down about 3 percent, and it has already set the tone for a much more challenging year.
As goes January, so goes the year, is the adage. It has been right in 62 of the last 85 years, or 73 percent of the time.
"Since World War II, whenever the market was down in January, the average price change was usually flat in the remaining 11 months," said Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist with S&P Capital IQ. "It was a gain of 0.1 percent on average. It was basically a coin toss as to whether the market rose or fell for the year."
(Read more: Stocks down in January...if history repeats!)