Dow Jones Industrial Average

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Contributor, Benzinga
February 28, 2023

For over a century, the Dow Jones has remained a staple index of the United State’s stock market. The Dow index examines a collection of top companies to create a comprehensive image of the market. In general, the Dow includes companies from a variety of industries to provide a well-rounded perspective of market sentiments. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) allows investors to understand whether the market is moving in an upward or downward direction. For the investor-on-the-go, the Dow offers a quick snapshot of the market. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

What is the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was first created in 1896 and has since evolved to meet the needs of today’s investors. It functions as a point of comparison that investors can use when examining other indexes. The Dow gives investors access to a combination of charts and historical data. The Dow typically includes the top 30 companies from a wide range of industries. For example, the companies currently placed within the Dow range from finance to social media and technology. Because the Dow includes such a vast selection of companies, it has the ability to function as a benchmark while simultaneously revealing investor sentiment about the broader market. 

How Does the Dow Jones Industrial Average Impact the Economy?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average can heavily impact the economy by providing a price-weighted image of the market. The Dow has the unique ability to reveal how a multitude of factors intertwines with stocks on a daily level. For example, the index can reveal changing social sentiments, shifting economic trends and broader potential shifts in the market over time. An underperforming or shifting Dow Jones Industrial Average has the ability to change investor sentiment and momentarily impact the market. 

Focuses on Price Weights 

The Dow is used to provide a general picture of the market. It collects information related to the included companies using a price-weighted index. It’s common for companies with larger stock prices to carry a heavier weight within the index. Ultimately, a price weight measurement system is implemented to offer a general image of the larger market. Keep in mind that many alternative indexes function using calculations that differ from the price-weight method.

Reveals Social Sentiments

Investor sentiment and social sentiments can be difficult to quantify. Generally, social sentiments are defined as how investors feel about the market. Investors can shift sentiment depending on news specific to an individual company or information related to broader changes in the market. For example, underperformance from a singular company will likely impact how investors perceive the company and ultimately impact that specific company’s stock price. However, underperformance by one company is unlikely to completely shift how investors view the market as a whole.

Today, social sentiments including the attitudes and feelings surrounding the Dow Jones Industrial Average can rapidly spread among a large number of investors. A combination of modern technologies such as social media platforms and fintech-related AI can quickly disseminate information while influencing how investors decide to interact with the market. Artificial intelligence(AI) now plays an increasingly relevant role within the market by monitoring social sentiment and reviewing comments and information mentioned on social media platforms and online articles. 

An economic trend often provides an extended view of the market. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average can function as a point of comparison, it also has the power to reveal economic trends. The Dow typically indicates general market changes and trend reversals. Investors often locate trend reversals when using a peak-and-trough analysis. A peak-and-trough analysis usually examines the highs and lows of market prices to indicate possible trend reversals. When looking at the Dow Jones Industrial Average it’s important to keep in mind that prices typically do not move in a straight line. The prices often have peaks and lows that move in the direction that best correlates with current market conditions.

Functions as a Benchmark

The Dow Jones Industrial Average provides a benchmark that’s relatively easy to navigate. It allows investors to answer the question, did the average move up or down when compared to yesterday? The Dow also offers an excellent point of comparison when examined next to other indexes. For example, changes within a technology-focused index will likely be more subtle for the Dow when compared to changes in the NASDAQ Composite. 

Indicates Potential Shifts

The Dow can heavily impact the economy by revealing subtle bullish or bearish market trends. A bullish market often indicates a steady or even growing economy combined with optimistic trading behaviors over an extended period. Bearish trends usually reveal a receding economy where stock prices continue to fall. The Dow has the ability to indicate changes in the larger market by revealing emerging market patterns from one day to the next.

Should Investors Follow the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average can be useful for investors. It has the ability to craft a general image of the market while also encouraging investors to dig deeper into specific companies. Investors cannot invest in the Dow because it is a calculated reflection based on the performance of multiple companies. Instead, individuals can invest in the specific companies placed within the Dow. For example, individuals can invest in companies placed within the Dow such as Apple and American Express. The Dow offers a general image of the market that can help guide additional research regarding potential investment opportunities. 

Is the Dow Jones Industrial Average the Only Meaningful Index?

No, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is not the only meaningful index. Although the Dow is an important index, it is by no means the only relevant index because each financial index typically measures the performance of different companies and industries. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, The Standard and Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) and The NASDAQ Composite are typically considered top indexes. The S&P 500 is about a century old and examines the top 500 companies over a varied range of industries. The companies included within the 500 are often considered the best according to factors such as liquidity and trading history. In contrast, the NASDAQ Composite typically examines companies within technology-related industries. The NASDAQ Composite is a relatively new index that was created in the early 1970s. Overall, referencing multiple indexes has the potential to improve an investor’s perception of the market. Using several indexes allows investors to seek and navigate different perspectives.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Which stocks are in the Dow Jones?


The DOW Jones is a compilation of stocks from 30 notable companies. The companies range from a variety of different industries and are used to create a price-weighted average. Companies placed within the DOW Jones are publicly-owned. Publicly-owned companies in addition to having publicly traded shares typically have annual reports that display relevant financial records and key data points.


Does the Dow Jones indicate if the economy is performing well?


Typically, Dow Jones indicates shifting market trends and conditions. The companies within the Dow Jones come from a variety of industries and can point out areas of potential concern and interest to aware investors. For example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average refers to the top largest publicly traded companies, and in the short-term, it usually closely follows sentiment related to both political and societal events.