What Is the Dow Jones Transportation Average?

The Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA) is a price-weighted average of 20 transportation stocks traded in the United States. The Dow Jones Transportation Average is the oldest U.S. stock index, first compiled in 1884 by Charles Dow, co-founder of Dow Jones & Company. The index initially consisted of nine railroad companies and only two companies from outside the railroad industry. That is a testament to the dominance of railroads in the U.S. transportation sector in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to railroads, the index now includes airlines, trucking, marine transportation, delivery services, and logistics companies.

Key Takeaways

  • The Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA) is a price-weighted average of 20 transportation stocks traded in the United States.
  • In addition to railroads, the index now includes airlines, trucking, marine transportation, delivery services, and logistics companies.
  • The Dow Jones Transportation Average is closely watched to confirm the state of the U.S. economy, especially by proponents of Dow Theory.
  • Changes in the DJTA are rare, and they usually only happen following a corporate acquisition or other dramatic shifts in a component's core business.

Understanding the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA)

Transportation is much less important to the overall stock market than it was when the DJTA was first created. However, transportation stocks can follow a different pattern than the rest of the market. Sometimes, they can help traders and investors to predict changes in the market.

Forecasting the direction of the Dow Jones Industrial Average is one of the primary uses for the Dow Jones Transportation Average.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average is closely watched to confirm the state of the U.S. economy, especially by proponents of Dow Theory. This theory maintains that as the industrials make and the transports take, the DJTA should confirm the trend of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). A divergence indicates a potential reversal of the trend. In other words, if the DJIA is climbing while the DJTA is falling, it may signal economic weakness ahead. A divergence means goods are not being transported at the same rate at which they are being produced, suggesting a decline in nationwide demand.

The DJTA hit a record high of 11,623.58 in September 2018. The index fell below 6,500 in March 2020 as concerns over the coronavirus devastated airline stocks during a deep bear market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) had continued to reach new highs until February of 2020. This divergence of the DJTA and the DJIA before the crash was another confirmation of Dow Theory.

Components of the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA)

As of March 2020, the index consisted of 20 companies:

  • Alaska Air Group, Inc. (ALK)
  • American Airlines (AAL)
  • Avis Budget Group, Inc. (CAR)
  • C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. (CHRW)
  • CSX Corp. (CSX)
  • Delta Air Lines (DAL)
  • Expeditors International (EXPD)
  • FedEx (FDX)
  • J B Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (JBHT)
  • JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU)
  • Kansas City Southern (KSU)
  • Kirby Corp. (KEX)
  • Landstar System, Inc. (LSTR)
  • Matson, Inc. (MATX)
  • Norfolk Southern (NSC)
  • Ryder System, Inc. (R)
  • Southwest Airlines (LUV)
  • Union Pacific (UNP)
  • United Continental Holdings (UAL)
  • United Parcel Service (UPS)

Changes in the DJTA are rare, and they usually only happen following a corporate acquisition or other dramatic shifts in a component's core business. However, Union Pacific is the only one of the original DJTA components to continue in the index. Should a component need to be replaced, the entire index is reviewed. Alaska Air Group replaced AMR Corporation on December 2, 2011, after AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection. Effective October 30, 2012, Kirby Corp. replaced Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc. Effective October 1, 2014, Avis Budget Group Inc. replaced GATX Corporation. On October 15, 2015, American Airlines Group replaced Con-way.