The Dow Jones Industrial Average, also known as the Dow or DJIA, tracks 30 well-known, large companies that trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Nasdaq. As of early 2022, the Dow's all-time high at market close stands at 36,799.65 points—reached on Jan. 4, 2022.
The index's highest price, period, was on Jan. 5, 2022: At one point, the Dow reached 36,952.65 points.
- As of early 2022, the Dow's all-time high at market close stands at 36,799.65 points—reached on Jan. 4, 2022.
- The index's highest price, period, was on Jan. 5: At one point, the Dow reached 36,952.65 points.
- The Dow finally broke the 30,000 mark on Nov. 23, 2020.
- The biggest cumulative loss suffered by the DJIA was during the Great Depression, when it lost nearly 90% of its value between 1929 and 1932.
- The largest single-day drop by percentage happened in October of 1987; the largest single-day drop by points happened in March of 2020.
Dow All-Time Highs
The DJIA has consistently hit new highs over the 2010s. The longest bull market in history lasted approximately 11 years, starting in March 2009, and ending in Feb. 2020.
A number of records were set in 2019, thanks in part to trade talks with China. The index hit 22 record closes in 2019.
The Dow finally broke the 30,000 mark the following year. Uncertainty had been hanging over the markets due to the unprecedented refusal of President Trump to concede the election to President-elect Biden. When Trump began the transition process late on Nov. 23, 2020, stocks came roaring back.
2021 was also a banner year. The Dow climbed to 31,522.75 points on Feb. 16, 2021. It hit an all-time high of 34,200.67 points on April 16, 2021. In the autumn, it began to consistently close above 35,000 points, and by the last week in December, surpassed 36,000 points.
Dow All-Time Lows and Plunges
While the recent decade has shown strong economic growth, leading to plenty of record highs for the Dow, there have been significant plunges as well, both over periods of time and in dramatic single-day or single-moment drops.
Perhaps the most infamous trough was during the Great Depression, in which the Dow lost about 90% of its value over the course of just three years. It hit a low of 41.22 in 1932.
Since the Great Depression, 2007-2008 has been the most dramatic period of collapse for the DJIA. The market fell over 50% in just a year-and-a-half, due to the subprime mortgage and credit crisis that kicked off the Great Recession.
During the recession around the turn of the 21st century, the DJIA fell from 11,723 in Jan. 2000 to 9,796 in March 2001, falling 17%. The recession from 1973 to 1975 was also especially troublesome for the DJIA, falling 45% from its 1,051 peak in 1973 to just under 600 in 1974. The Dow Jones also lost 26.5% during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
The largest single-day drop, percentage-wise, that the Dow has suffered; it occurred when the market crashed on Oct. 19, 1987, aka Black Monday. However, in terms of points, the Dow's worst day was March 16, 2020, when it fell 2,997.1 points—in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic adoption of lockdowns throughout the U.S. and the Fed slashing interest rates to near zero.
Technology and the DJIA
Since its inception on May 26, 1896, the calculation of the DJIA has become more accurate over the years, thanks to the help of technology and electronic trading. In the beginning, the index high was calculated using the intraday trading highs of each component stock, even though the highs for all 30 companies were likely not reached at the same time. This is known as the Theoretical Dow Jones Index.
Currently, the Dow Jones calculates using a "pre-determined fixed interval" throughout the day, giving it a more realistic measure.
Since the index was first recorded 125 years ago at 40.94, it has had a 6.94% annualized total return through Dec. 31, 2021, adjusting for inflation with dividends reinvested. Since 2000, it has posted just over a 6% annualized total return. These results indicate that even if the Dow Jones sees drops along the way, it offers growth for long-term investors.