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. 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: During that trading day, the Dow reached 36,952.65 points.
Since posting its all-time high early in 2022, the Dow has seen significant declines. At the market close on Sept. 9, 2022, the DJIA’s level of 32,151.71 represented a drop of approximately 13% from its highs posted in January. This indicates that the Dow is in a correction, which is generally defined as a fall of 10% or more from a recent peak. Continued declines could drop the average into bear market territory, which typically describes a decline of 20% or more.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hit its highest level on Jan. 5, 2022, reaching 36,952.65 points in intraday trading.
- The Dow’s all-time high at market close stands at 36,799.65 points—reached on Jan. 4, 2022.
- The DJIA is one of the most regularly followed equity indexes, tracking 30 large-cap, well-known companies that trade on U.S. stock exchanges.
A Brief History of the Dow
Journalist Charles Dow and his business partner, Edward Jones, established the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896, starting with 12 companies in the industrials sector. The number of companies included in the index increased to 20 in 1916 and then to the current level of 30 in 1928. Since its inception just before the onset of the 20th century, the DJIA has remained one of the most frequently discussed and commonly tracked equities indexes.
The following are some of the historical milestones achieved by the Dow Jones Industrial Average:
- March 15, 1933: The largest one-day percentage gain occurred during the market turmoil of the 1930s, when the Dow increased 15.34%, up 8.26 points to close at 62.10.
- Oct. 19, 1987: The day of the Dow’s largest one-day percentage drop came to be known as Black Monday, as the average fell 22.61%. The exact causes of the crash remain a mystery, although program trading may have played a role.
- Jan. 25, 2017: The Dow closed above 20,000 points for the first time.
- March 16, 2020: The Dow crashed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, falling close to 3,000 points in a single day amid several drastic up and down moves.
- Nov. 16, 2020: The Dow returned to its pre-COVID-19 high, jumping to a level of 29,950.44.
- Nov. 24, 2020: The Dow exceeded 30,000 points for the first time, closing at 30,046.24.
- Jan. 5, 2022: The Dow hit its all-time high of 36,952.65.
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 February 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 then-President Donald Trump to concede the election to President-elect Biden. When Trump began the transition process late on Nov. 23, 2020, stocks came roaring back.
The index also had a banner year in 2021. 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 2021, it 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.
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 United States and the Federal Reserve slashing interest rates to near zero.
Since the Great Depression, 2007–2008 has been the most dramatic period of collapse for the DJIA. The market fell more than 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 during January 2000 to 9,389 during March 2001, dropping 20%. 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 also lost 26.5% during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
What is the Dow Jones Industrial Average?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, also known as the DJIA or the Dow, is a stock market index that tracks 30 large, publicly owned blue-chip companies trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Nasdaq. Journalist Charles Dow created the index in 1896 to serve as a proxy for the overall U.S. economy.
What are the drawbacks of the Dow Jones Industrial Average?
Since the Dow tracks just 30 large-cap U.S. companies, some critics argue that it is too narrow to represent the state of the overall U.S. economy. Given its exclusively large-cap focus, the roster of companies included in the Dow fails to include companies of other sizes. Many market observers believe that the S&P 500 is a better representation of the economy, as it includes 500 companies rather than just 30.
Can I invest in the Dow Jones Industrial Average?
While a market index itself is not an investible security, you can invest in the Dow through index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) such as the SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust (DIA). Investors in funds that track the Dow gain exposure to all the stocks listed on the index.
The Bottom Line
The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its all-time high during intraday trading on Jan. 5, 2022, reaching a peak of 36,952.65 points. The highest close occurred the previous day—Jan. 4, 2022—when the index closed at 36,799.65. Since posting these all-time highs, the Dow has suffered significant losses. As of the market close on Sept. 9, 2022, the DJIA remained in correction territory at around 13% below its January highs.