Market Overview

This Day In Market History: Charles Dow's First Stock Index

This Day In Market History: Charles Dow's First Stock Index

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened? On this day in 1884, Charles Dow created the first modern American stock index.

Where The Market Was: Dow’s original index predates the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. Today, the Dow is trading at 24,307.18 and the S&P 500 is trading at 2,726.71.

What Else Was Going On In The World? In 1884, Mark Twain published “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The world’s first roller coaster opened at Coney Island in New York. Standard rent in the U.S. at the time was $72 per year.

First Dow Jones Precurser: Charles Dow’s legacy lives on to this day, and his Dow Jones Industrial Average is one of the most popular measures of the entire U.S. stock market.

Dow’s first venture into U.S. stock index creation occurred in 1884 when he published his first index of public U.S. companies in his two-page financial bulletin “Consumer Afternoon Letter.”

Dow’s original index consisted of just 11 stocks. Nine of the 11 stocks were railroads: Chicago & North Western, Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, Lake Shore, New York Central, St. Paul, Northern Pacific, Union Pacific, Missouri Pacific and Louisville & Nashville. The other two stocks in Dow’s original index were steamship company Pacific Mail and telegraph company Western Union.

Twelve years later in 1896, Dow created a new index comprised of 12 industrial companies only, which would eventually evolve into the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average traders use to this day.


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