The stock market index known as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, also called DJIA, the Dow Jones Industrial, the Industrial Average, DJI, the Dow Jones, the Dow 30 or simply the Dow was founded by Charles Dow and Eduard Jones in the mid-1880s.
The index is price weighted average of 30 of the most significant stocks that are traded on the NASDAQ and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). This particular index is the most followed and watched in the world, as its conglomerates include some of the most accomplished companies recognised worldwide. When you hear ‘the markets are up (or down) today’ they typically refer to the Dow – that is how influential this index is. Currently the index is owned by S&P Dow Jones Indices and that is majority owned by S&P Global.
Charles Dow and Eduard Jones formed the Dow Jones Industrial Average to serve as a proxy for the US economy. From its inception, the DJIA included only 12 companies that were all industrial based. They included gas, cotton, tobacco, oil, sugar that all operated in or with the railroads. General Electric is the one component that is still part of the index today.
The index cultivated more components, from 12 to 30 in 1928 and since has changed these components over 51 times within that time, with the first change that was brought about 3 months after it was first launched in May 1896.
Starting off, the level stood at 62.76 and reached its peak in 1890 to 78.38, then during the summer of 1896 hit an all-time low of 28.48, which later lead to what is known as the ‘panic of 1896’. From 1900s, the momentum picked up and fell over 14 years, and eventually stabilised. However, during the great depression of 1928, the world’s economy had suffered a crash and the index did not recover till 1954, and started to follow market trends as we know today.
DJIA Index composition
As the economy experiences changes so does the Dow and its composites. Similar to other indices like Russell 2000 index, all its components are price weighted, which means that the price per share for each stock included is divided by the total number of stocks that make up the index.
The corporations of the DJIA are chosen by a committee at Dow Jones S&P Index. The organisation ensures that a healthy and positive reflection of the US economy is at the forefront of the index, and this is the basis for them selecting only the top performing companies. Based on the changes within the corporations which influence will have an effect on the companies that make up the DJIA 30.
Top 5 companies represented by DJIA and their index weighting (%)
|United Health Group||5.47%|
Factors that influence the overall index price
Some of the factors that drive the DJIA include natural calamities, economic slumps within the US or other countries, increased oil prices and currency strength, reflected in the dollar index. Mostly the index drops due to market uncertainties. Investors usually are cautious when investing in the highly volatile components of the index.
Shares may fall when the Dow sees current investors selling their stocks due to market limitations, which can include a decrease in one or more of the company’s profits or when they are caught in any wrongdoing.
War and terrorism prompt investors to pull out the markets as well as these force a decrease in the demand for goods and services that could be purchased by consumers from the companies that make up the DJIA, thus impacting their revenues.
On the other hand, when investors see a small drop in the Dow this may trigger them to hold onto their shares, and even get them to buy more in the anticipation of the index seeing an increase and the investor enjoying the profits of the market change. When a significant drop in the markets occurs, this could imply the beginning of an economic crisis and will result in a decrease in the stocks value.
DJIA Trading information
- The Dow 30 futures contract is tradable from 22:01 – 20:14 (GMT), Monday to Friday
- The Dow 30 moves in increments of 1.00
- The margin requirement for trading the Dow 30 is usually about 0.5% (i.e. 200:1 leverage) with most brokers
- The minimum trade size is 1 index
- The currency of the Dow 30 is the US Dollar
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