Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dow Jones Industrial Average

The Dow Jones Industrial Average also called the Industrial Average, the Dow Jones, the Dow 30, or simply the Dow, is a stock market index, and one of several indices created by Wall Street Journal editor and Dow Jones & Company co-founder Charles Dow. It was founded on May 26, 1896, and is now owned by Dow Jones Indexes, which is majority owned by the CME Group. The average is named after Dow and one of his business associates, statistician Edward Jones. It is an index that shows how 30 large, publicly owned companies based in the United States have traded during a standard trading session in the stock market. It is the second oldest U.S. market index after the Dow Jones Transportation Average, which was also created by Dow.

The Industrial portion of the name is largely historical, as many of the modern 30 components have little or nothing to do with traditional heavy industry. The average is price-weighted, and to compensate for the effects of stock splits and other adjustments, it is currently a scaled average. The value of the Dow is not the actual average of the prices of its component stocks, but rather the sum of the component prices divided by a divisor, which changes whenever one of the component stocks has a stock split or stock dividend, so as to generate a consistent value for the index.

Along with the NASDAQ Composite, the S&P 500 Index, and the Russell 2000 Index, the Dow is among the most closely watched U.S. benchmark indices tracking targeted stock market activity. Although Dow compiled the index to gauge the performance of the industrial sector within the American economy, the index's performance continues to be influenced by not only corporate and economic reports, but also by domestic and foreign political events such as war and terrorism, as well as by natural disasters that could potentially lead to economic harm. Components of the Dow trade on both the NASDAQ OMX and the NYSE Euronext, two of the largest stock market companies. Derivatives of the Dow trade on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and through the CME Group, the world's largest futures exchange company, which owns 90% of the indexing business founded by Dow Jones, including the Industrial Average.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average currently consists of the following 30 major American companies:
Company Symbol Industry Date Added
3M MMM Conglomerate 1976-08-09 1976-08-09 (as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing)
Alcoa AA Aluminum 1959-06-01 1959-06-01 (as Aluminum Company of America)
American Express AXP Consumer finance 1982-08-30 1982-08-30
AT&T T Telecommunication 1999-11-01 1999-11-01 (as SBC Communications)
Bank of America BAC Banking 2008-02-19 2008-02-19
Boeing BA Aerospace and defense 1987-03-12 1987-03-12
Caterpillar CAT Construction and mining equipment 1991-05-06 1991-05-06
Chevron Corporation CVX Oil & gas 2008-02-19 2008-02-19
Cisco Systems CSCO Computer networking 2009-06-08 2009-06-08
Coca-Cola KO Beverages 1987-03-12 1987-03-12
DuPont DD Chemical industry 1935-11-20 1935-11-20 (also 1924-01-22 to 1925-08-31)
ExxonMobil XOM Oil & gas 1928-10-01 1928-10-01 (as Standard Oil of New Jersey)
General Electric GE Conglomerate 1907-11-07 1907-11-07
Hewlett-Packard HPQ Technology 1997-03-17 1997-03-17
The Home Depot HD Home improvement retailer 1999-11-01 1999-11-01
Intel INTC Semiconductors 1999-11-01 1999-11-01
IBM IBM Computers and technology 1979-06-29 1979-06-29
Johnson & Johnson JNJ Pharmaceuticals 1997-03-17 1997-03-17
JPMorgan Chase JPM Banking 1991-05-06 1991-05-06 (as J.P. Morgan & Company)
Kraft Foods KFT Food processing 2008-09-22 2008-09-22
McDonald's MCD Fast food 1985-10-30 1985-10-30
Merck MRK Pharmaceuticals 1979-06-29 1979-06-29
Microsoft MSFT Software 1999-11-01 1999-11-01
Pfizer PFE Pharmaceuticals 2004-04-08 2004-04-08
Procter & Gamble PG Consumer goods 1932-05-26 1932-05-26
Travelers TRV Insurance 2009-06-08 2009-06-08
United Technologies Corporation UTX Conglomerate 1939-03-14 1939-03-14 (as United Aircraft)
Verizon Communications VZ Telecommunication 2004-04-08 2004-04-08
Wal-Mart WMT Retail 1997-03-17 1997-03-17
Walt Disney DIS Broadcasting and entertainment 1991-05-06 1991-05-06

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was founded by Charles Dow on May 26, 1896, and represented the dollar average of 12 stocks from leading American industries. Previously in 1884, Dow had composed an initial stock average called the Dow Jones Averages, which contained nine railroads and two industrial companies that appeared in the Customer's Afternoon Letter, a daily two-page financial news bulletin which was the precursor to The Wall Street Journal. The original group of 12 stocks ultimately chosen to form the Dow Jones Industrial Average did not contain any railroad stocks, but purely industrial stocks. Of these, only General Electric currently remains part of that index. The other 11 were:

* American Cotton Oil Company, a predecessor company to Bestfoods, now part of Unilever.
* American Sugar Company, became Domino Sugar in 1900, now Domino Foods, Inc.
* American Tobacco Company, broken up in a 1911 antitrust action.
* Chicago Gas Company, bought by Peoples Gas Light in 1897, now an operating subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group.
* Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company, now Millennium Chemicals, formerly a division of LyondellBasell, the latter of which is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
* Laclede Gas Company, still in operation as the Laclede Group, Inc., removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1899.
* National Lead Company, now NL Industries, removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1916.
* North American Company, an electric utility holding company, broken up by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1946.
* Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in Birmingham, Alabama, bought by U.S. Steel in 1907; U.S. Steel was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1991.
* U.S. Leather Company, dissolved in 1952.
* United States Rubber Company, changed its name to Uniroyal in 1961, merged with private B.F. Goodrich in 1986, bought by Michelin in 1990.

When it was first published in the late 1890s, the index stood at a level of 40.94, but ended up hitting its all-time low of 28.48 during the summer of 1896 during the depths of what later became known as the Panic of 1896. Many of the biggest percentage price moves in the Dow occurred early in its history, as the nascent industrial economy matured. A brief war in 1898 between the U.S. and the Spanish Empire might have only had a minor impact in the Dow's direction.

The decade of the 1900s would see the Dow halt its momentum as it worked its way through a pair of cataclysmic financial crises; the Panic of 1901 and the Panic of 1907. The Dow would be stuck in a trading range of between the 50 and 100 point levels till late 1909. The negativity surrounding the 1906 San Francisco earthquake did little to improve the economic climate. International disturbances such as the Russo-Japanese War were few and far between and seemed to have little if any influence on the Dow. The average would end off the decade near the vicinity of the 100 point level.

At the start of the 1910s, the decade would begin with the Panic of 1910–1911 stifling economic growth for a lengthy period of time. History would later take its course on July 30, 1914; as the average stood at a level of 71.42 when a decision was made to close down the New York Stock Exchange, and suspend trading for a span of 4½ months. Some historians believe the exchange closed because of a concern that markets would plunge as a result of panic over the onset of World War I. An alternative explanation is that the Secretary of the Treasury, William Gibbs McAdoo, closed the exchange because he wanted to conserve the U.S. gold stock in order to launch the Federal Reserve System later that year, with enough gold to keep the U.S. at par with the gold standard. When the markets reopened on December 12, 1914, the index closed at 54, a drop of 24.39%. Also, in trying to explain the huge percentage drop, there was a new recalculation performed on the index in September 1916. Additions to the index raised the number of companies to 20, resulting in a mathematical inconsistency to the average from previous years in the past including 1914. Following World War I, the U.S. would experience another downturn in economic activity in what became known as the Post-World War I recession. The Dow's performance would remain virtually unchanged from the closing value of the previous decade, adding only around 5%, from about the 100 level to 105.

During the 1920s, specifically in 1928, the components of the Dow were increased to 30 stocks near the economic height of that decade, which was nicknamed the Roaring Twenties. The prosperous nature of the economic climate, muted the negative influence of an early 1920s recession plus certain international conflicts such as the Polish-Soviet war, the Irish Civil War, the Turkish War of Independence and the initial phase of the Chinese Civil War. The Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression returned the average to its starting point, almost 90% below its peak. By July 8, 1932, following its intra-day low of 40.56, the Dow would end up closing the session at 41.22. The high of 381.17 on September 3, 1929, would not be surpassed until 1954, in inflation-adjusted numbers. However, the bottom of the 1929 Crash came just 2½ months later on November 13, 1929, when intra-day it was at the 195.35 level, closing slightly higher at 198.69. For the decade, the Dow would end off with a healthy 173% gain from around the 105 level to a level of 286.

Marked by global instability, the 1930s contended with several consequential European and Asian outbreaks of war, leading up to catastrophic World War II; including the Spanish Civil War, the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, the Soviet-Japanese Border War and the Second Sino-Japanese War. On top of that, the U.S. dealt with a painful recession in 1937 and 1938. The largest one-day percentage gain in the index, 15.34%, happened on March 15, 1933, in the depths of the 1930s bear market. However, as a whole, the Dow posted some of its worst performances, for a negative return. For the decade, the average was down from around the 286 level to 148, a loss of about 48%.

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