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Dow Jones Industrial Average

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is one of several stock market indices created by Wall Street Journal editor and Dow Jones & Company founder Charles Dow. Dow compiled the index as a way to gauge the performance of the industrial component of America's stock markets. It is the oldest continuing U.S. market index.

Today, the average consists of 30 of the largest and most widely-held public companies in the United States. The "industrial" portion of the name is largely historical—many of the 30 modern components have little to do with heavy industry. To compensate for the effects of stock splits and other adjustments, it is currently a weighted average, not the actual average of the prices of its component stocks.

Table of contents

History

First published on May 26, 1896, the DJIA represented the average of twelve stocks from various important American industries. Of those original twelve, only General Electric remains part of the average. The other eleven were:

  • American Cotton Oil Company, a predecessor of Bestfoods, now part of Unilever
  • American Sugar Company, now Amstar Holdings
  • American Tobacco Company, broken up in 1911
  • Chicago Gas Company, bought by Peoples Gas Light & Coke Co. in 1897 (now Peoples Energy Corporation)
  • Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company, now Millennium Chemicals
  • Laclede Gas Light Company, still in operation as The Laclede Group
  • National Lead Company, now NL Industries
  • North American Company, broken up in the 1940s
  • Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, bought by U.S. Steel in 1907
  • U.S. Leather Company, dissolved 1952
  • U.S. Rubber Company, changed its name to Uniroyal in 1967, bought by Michelin in 1990

When it was first published, the index stood at 40.94. It was computed as a direct average, by first adding up stock prices of its components and dividing by the number of stocks. In 1916, the number of stocks in the DJIA was increased to twenty, and finally to thirty in 1928. By November 14, 1972 the average closed above 1,000 (1,003.16) for the first time.

The 1980s and especially the 1990s saw a very rapid increase in the average. On November 21, 1995 it closed above 5,000 (5,023.55) for the first time and on March 29, 1999 the average closed at 10,006.78 which was the first time the index closed above the 10,000 mark. Just over a month later on May 3, 1999, it closed at 11,014.70, its first close above 11,000. The average closed at an the all-time peak of 11,722.98 on January 14, 2000. By mid-2002 however, it had returned to its 1998 level of 8000. On October 9, 2002, the DJIA bottomed out at 7286.27, its lowest close since October 1997. By the end of 2003, however, the Dow returned to the 10,000 level. (see Closing Milestones of the Dow Jones Industrial Average)

The largest one-day percentage drop in the Dow occurred on "Black Monday" in 1987 when the average fell 22.6%. The largest one-day point drop occurred on September 17, 2001, the first day of trading after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when the Dow fell 684.81 points or 7.1%. By the end of the week of September 17th, the Dow had fallen 1369.70 points, or 14.3%

Criticism

Some people criticize the DJIA because it is a price-weighted average, which gives relatively higher-priced stocks more influence over the average than their lower-priced counterparts. This can produce misleading results, as a $1 increase in a lower-priced stock can be negated by a $1 decrease in a much higher-priced stock, even though the first stock experienced a larger percentage change. Additionally, the inclusion of only 30 stocks in the average has brought on additional criticism of the average, as the DJIA is widely used as an indicator of overall market performance. Because of these issues, the S&P 500 is becoming more widely quoted and used as a more realistic broad market performance indicator.

Components

The individual components of the DJIA are occasionally changed as market conditions warrant. They are selected by the editors of The Wall Street Journal. When companies are replaced, the individual weightings are adjusted so that the value of the average is not directly affected by the change.

On November 1, 1999, Chevron, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Sears Roebuck, and Union Carbide were removed from the DJIA and replaced by Intel, Microsoft, Home Depot, and SBC Communications. Intel and Microsoft became the first two companies traded on the NASDAQ exchange to be listed in the DJIA. On April 8, 2004, another change occurred as International Paper, AT&T, and Eastman Kodak were replaced with Pfizer, Verizon, and AIG.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average consists of the following 30 companies:

See also

External links

Performance








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