Quick! What did the market do today?
As a US investor, no doubt you don’t even ask which market when you hear that question. Instead, you probably quote the “Dow”, a popular stock index that tracks stock market fluctuations throughout the day. Though many indexes and averages follow the collective rise and fall of stock and bond prices, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is easily the best known.
And it all started with three enterprising newsmen and a fledgling firm called Dow, Jones & Company.
In 1882 financial reporters Charles Dow, Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser saw the need for a service summarizing Wall Street news bulletins. The bulletins grew into a publication called the Customers’ Afternoon Letter.
The newsletter was renamed the Wall Street Journal in 1889, and in 1896 the DJIA made its debut with a list of twelve industrial stocks.
At that time, in the spring of 1896, the index stood at 40.94. By fall it sank to a historic low of 28.48. The DJIA crossed the 100 mark in 1906, when the index closed at 100.35.
What’s the DJIA doing today? At the beginning of 2007, the index is comprised of thirty large cap NYSE listed stocks and stands at over 12,000.