Dow Jones Industrial Average

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average 17,798.49 -14.90 -0.08%

A thousand eyes are fixed on one screen, watching the numbers rise and fall with each passing minute. Their hands are busy, typing away on smartphones, making notes on scribbles of paper, or just waving around to emphasise a point. A blue graph streams across the singular screen, highlighting the up and down nature of the numbers. The faces contain a myriad of expressions: some are happy, some are not, and some are just relieved. But all the attention is focused on that single screen: The Dow Jones Index.

A Wall Street Constant Among The Changing Times

There are certain things that time implants and then moves around in circles instead of forward. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is one such thing. Consider the following fact: it is the second oldest market index in the United States with an age span of 128 years. More than just a marker of trading, the index has come to symbolise and represent the rich history of financial activity in America. Like an ever-expanding time capsule that keeps growing.

The index only lists the 30 largest publicly owned companies at that point in time. This has resulted in a few companies going in and out of the DJIA. The longest run by any company on the stock index belongs to General Electric. The public company first made its appearance in 1907 and has never left since.

The Industrial In DJIA – What It Signifies

It may be a bit of a tease to outsiders, why the index has Industrial in its initials. The DJIA is, after all, composed of public companies and not industries.

When the stock index first opened on May 26, 1896, 12 major industries made up its list. Some of them included American Tobacco Company, Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, and United States Rubber Company. Most of the original companies have either been dissolved or merged with global conglomerates. General Electric remains the only industry listed in the original index that has not changed. One could say that the history of the company and the history of the DJIA are intertwined. Both have been like age-old dance partners waltzing with the other.

The Index In The New Millennium

Over the decades, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has witnessed a wide variety of emotions – from the jubilant highs of the 1990s, when the index crossed the 10,000 average; to the lows of the following decade and the new millennium that saw stock prices crash and tumble.

It has, however, not been all doom and gloom. The DJIA crossed the 12,000 mark for the first time in October 2006. Between early 2006 and late 2007, the index reported a rapid rise from 11,000 to 14,000. Seasoned by the economic crises that have followed since 2008, the new investors practice a safety-first approach. The market reflects the trend with a more bearish outlook spiked with bullish runs.

An Immortal Index

Whatever the future holds for the financial markets, the Dow Jones Industrial Average will be there, reflecting the changes on its immortal index.