The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a weighted index representing the stock price action of 30 of the largest U.S. corporations. The world’s most widely followed stock market index, the DJIA was created on May 26, 1896 by Charles Dow and Edward Jones. When it was first launched, the Dow Jones stood at 40.94.
The DJIA is calculated by taking the average price of the listed stocks and dividing that figure by a number called the divisor. The divisor is there to take into account stock splits and mergers, and it changes frequently.
Much broader U.S. stock market indexes have since been created, including the S&P 500 index (which monitors the stock prices of the top 500 U.S. corporations); and the Wilshire 5000 (an index based on the market capitalization of 4,100 stocks actively traded in the U.S.).
The earnings and revenues of large corporations are often leading economic indicators. Hence, economists often look at the DJIA as an indicator of economic activity. If the index is hitting new highs, economic activity can be expected to be brisk in the next six months. Comparatively, if the index is falling to new lows, poor economic times could lie ahead. When news sources declare the markets up or down, they are generally referring to the DJIA.
What does it take to get included on the DJIA? There are no specific rules for inclusion; rather, there is a set of broad guidelines that require large, respected, substantial enterprises that represent a significant portion of the economic activity in the United States.
When the DJIA was launched, the index comprised 12 industrial companies.
Most of the original companies listed on the Dow are still in existence, though, after 100 years, not necessarily in the same form. Early industrial companies included: American Cotton Oil, American Tobacco, Chicago Gas, Tennessee Coal Iron and RR, U.S. Leather, and United States Rubber. The only component still trading in its original form and currently on the DJIA is General Electric Company (NYSE/GE).
In 1916, the DJIA was updated to 20 stocks. Some of the new companies included: American Beet Sugar, American Locomotive, Goodrich, Republic Iron & Steel, Studebaker, Westinghouse, and The Western Union Company (NYSE/WU).
The DJIA reached its current 30 components in 1928. The 30 companies occasionally changed to adapt to the evolving market.
During the stock market crash of 1929, the DJIA lost nearly 90% of its peak value, and would not surpass that (inflation-adjusted) peak again until 1954.
The Dow first passed the 1,000 mark in November 1972; it crossed 10,000 for the first time on March 29, 1999. This growth trend would extend into the 1990s. At the turn of the millennium, the average began to level off near 10,500.
On October 9, 2007, the DJIA peaked at 14,165. This was followed by the 2008 financial crisis. On March 9, 2009, the Dow Jones index hit bottom at 6,547, or 55% below its October 2007 high.
After March 9, 2009, the Dow Jones began another bull run after investors, for better or for worse, accepted that the Federal Government and Quantitative Easing had stopped another Great Depression.
Since May 26, 1896, the Dow Jones list of companies has been reconfigured 49 times. Most recently, Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (NASDAQ/KRFT) was removed from the list in favor of UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE/UNH).
A broader index than the name implies, the most recent configuration of the DJIA includes: Bank of America Corporation (NYSE/BAC), Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE/CAT), E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (NYSE/DD), Exxon Mobile Corporation (NYSE/XOM), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE/JPM), International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE/IBM), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ/MSFT), The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE/PG), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE/WMT), and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE/DIS).
There are several ways in which investors can trade the bull and bear markets on the DJIA. Several equities are designed to trade at par with or on the inverse of the DJIA. Investors can also purchase futures and options through the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE).
This market is definitely looking tired after such a strong run since mid-October.
The performance of transportation stocks has been noticeable this year. The Dow Jones Transportation Average has actually outperformed the NASDAQ Composite year-to-date. In my mind, when there’s leadership from this group, it’s a compelling, traditional bull market indicator. Countless component companies are pushing record highs.
Equally as impressive is the performance of the Russell 2000 index, which has pretty much mimicked the NASDAQ Composite over the last two years.
A divergence became apparent in the beginning of July, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average began underperforming the other indices. It’s as if investors upped their risk tolerance, willing to bet on more risky equity assets as they felt more comfortable being bullish on a stock market that’s already gone up.
Over the last 12 months, the Dow Jones Transportation Average has been the leading index (excluding biotechnology stocks, which aren’t comparable). While outperforming the Russell 2000 by a slim margin and the Dow Jones Industrial quite significantly, I think the Dow Jones Transportation Average remains the leading index going into 2014 and a great indicator for the broader market.
Among the railroad stocks that are included in the Dow Jones Transportation Average, Union Pacific Corporation (UNP) bounced back nicely higher over the last five weeks after experiencing a lasting price consolidation the past six months. It will be interesting to see if the stock can hold above its all-time record-high of $165.18. Doing so will be meaningful.
CSX Corporation (CSX) is also a component of the Dow Jones Transportation Average, and it, too, seems to have broken … Read More
Key stock indices are roaring higher each day. The S&P 500 is breaking through to new records; the Dow Jones Industrial Average sits above the 16,000 level, and the NASDAQ Composite Index trades at a level not seen since the Tech Boom. Sadly, as all of this happens, the one fundamental that has historically driven stock prices higher—corporate earnings—is missing from the equation.
In these pages, I have often harped on about how companies in key stock indices are buying back their shares at a record pace. I consider this “financial engineering,” because at the very core, what a stock buyback does is make corporate earnings per share look better.
This week, my research team took a look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average companies and how many were buying back their shares. Their findings reveal 28 out of the 30 companies on the index bought back shares over the past 12 months.
From the third quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of 2013, Dow Jones Industrial Average companies collectively bought an outstanding 2.33 billion of their own shares. Effectively, they removed over two billion shares from the market!
What did these stock buybacks do to the companies’ corporate earnings?
Because of the stock buybacks, 70% of all the companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average were able to show better per-share corporate earnings. For example, for the third quarter of this year, AT&T Inc. (NYSE/T) reported a net income of $0.72 per share, an improvement of 14.3% from the same quarter in 2012. But if AT&T didn’t reduce its share count during that period via its … Read More
Can you believe the mainstream headlines these days? I’m reading about the Dow Jones Industrial Average going to 19,000… I’m reading that stocks are rising because the amount of stocks for investors to buy has diminished…
It’s all rubbish!
The chart below of the Dow Jones Industrial Average breaking above 16,000 makes it look like people just woke up the morning of November 18 and said, “I need to rush out and buy stocks today!”
In my opinion, we are looking at the biggest bear market trap we’ve ever seen. The year 2008 is a distant memory. The notion of fear of “missing out” is back.
Investors are pouring billions into stocks…
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
According to the Investment Company Institute, long-term U.S. equity mutual funds had a net inflow of $5.4 billion for the week ended November 6. In the prior week, which ended on October 30, investors bought $4.2 billion worth of long-term U.S. equity mutual funds. (Source: Investment Company Institute, November 13, 2013.)
As investors are pouring back into stocks, the fundamentals that drive the key stock indices are dissipating. Each day, we hear weak economic news, which suggests key stock indices are moving beyond reality. And the disparity between the performance of key stock indices and the most basic fundamentals continues to grow.
Corporate earnings of companies in key stock indices are very weak. The corporate earnings “surprise” rate (this is the rate that shows how much higher or lower corporate earnings were registered) came in at 1.8% in the third quarter—far below the four-year average of 6.5%.
S&P 500 companies posted an increase in … Read More
More gains ahead—or at least I’m sensing the stock market has more room to advance, especially with the bullish investor sentiment that has characterized the majority of the year continuing to hold.
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average continued to advance to record heights last Wednesday and again on Thursday. The near-term trend is pointing higher. The S&P 500 will likely break 1,800 prior to the year-end, unless consumer spending tanks.
The stock market even appears to have discounted in some tapering in December or January. Traders realize the tapering is coming and they’ve come to terms with that—as long as it’s slow and the economy delivers stronger and steady growth. A slight rise in long-term rates and the 10-year bond yield is not going to hurt the stock market that much.
The rise in the Dow Jones industrials continues to be confirmed by an associated rise in the Dow Jones Transportation Average, as reflected on the chart below. Both the industrials (red candlesticks) and transportation stocks (green line) are trending higher, and that means more gains ahead.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Fighting the trend is fruitless at this point. The breakout appears to be holding, as indicated by the blue oval on the chart above. Now we could see a correction down to around 14,700, but this would be a buying opportunity, as I sense the stock market will continue to edge higher. (Read “Vulnerable Key Stock Index May Be Signaling Upcoming Buying Opportunity.”)
As we move toward year-end and into 2014, I expect the stock market to advance higher. So make sure you are … Read More
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