Dow Jones Reaches New Record High

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Dow Highest Closing Records

The DJIA Top Highs and Lows Since 1929

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (the Dow) is the index of the 30 top-performing U.S. companies. The highest closing record is 29,551.42 set on Feb. 12, 2020.   Investors were encouraged that the trade wars initiated by President Donald Trump were being resolved. They also liked the Federal Reserve’s three interest rate cuts in 2020.

The stock market crash of 2020 began on March 9, 2020. The Dow fell a record 2,013.76 points to 23,851.02. It was followed by two more record-setting point drops on March 12 and March 16. The stock market crash included the three worst point drops in U.S. history.

On March 11, the Dow closed at 23,553.22, down 20.3% from the Feb. 12 high. That launched a bear market and ended the 11-year bull market that started in March 2009. Investors were worried about the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.

The stock market historically performs similarly to the economy. A bear market (prices decrease 20% or more) occurs during a recession and a bull market (prices increase) during an expansion. A bull market has been running since March 11, 2009, when the Dow closed at 6,930.4. It hasn’t fallen 20% since then, making it the longest-running bull market in U.S. history. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average one of the many gauges of stock market performance. This history of the Dow since the Great Depression demonstrates how stock market fluctuations reflect the natural stages of the business cycle.

Record Highs Set in 2020

The Dow started 2020 with a record high of 28,868.80. It set another record a week later. It then set a milestone on Jan. 15 when it rose above 29,000. 

Record Highs Set in 2020

In 2020, the Dow hit two milestones and set 22 record closes. On July 3, the Dow hit a new high when the Trump administration announced it would resume trade negotiations with China, averting additional tariffs (taxes on imports). 

The Dow responded with new highs throughout the latter part of 2020, even though trade negotiations had broken down until November. It hit a milestone on July 11, closing above 27,000, and then another on Nov. 15—closing above 28,000 (in the chart below, milestones are noted).

Record Highs Set in 2020

The Dow hit three 1,000-point milestones in 2020. It hit two of them in the first few weeks in January, closing above 25,000 on Jan. 4.   The index breached 26,000 on Jan. 17, then continued on to set 15 closing records in the rest of 2020.

The records set in the fall were the first ones since the Dow reached 26,616.71 on Jan. 26, 2020. After hitting the Jan. 26 peak, the Dow went into free fall, dropping 4% the next week. On Feb. 8, it entered a market correction when it fell 1,032.89 points to 23,860.46.

Investors were encouraged by the progress made on Trump’s North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation. On Aug. 27, 2020, the Dow ended a six-month correction (a decline of 10% or more) when it reached 26,049.64. This was 10% above its closing low of 25,533.20, reached on March 23. This was the longest correction since 1961, when a correction lasted for 223 sessions. 

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Record Highs Set in 2020

The index set 70 closing records in 2020. For the first time, the Dow reached five 1,000-point milestones in one year. On Jan. 25, 2020, the index closed at 20,068.51. 

This high occurred only 42 trading sessions after closing above 19,000. That is the second-fastest rise in U.S. history (currently, the record is 24 sessions to go from 10,000 to 21,000 in 1999).

On March 1, 2020, it closed above 21,000 which followed a 12-day run. This was the longest such streak since the record 13-day stretch in 1987.   When the Dow breached 22,000 on Aug. 2, 2020, it became the first time to hit three such milestones in one year.

The index closed above 23,000 on Oct. 18, 2020; slightly more than a month later, it broke 24,000. The Dow had two streaks lasting more than 10 days, which had not occurred since 1959.

The index had three nine-day runs, last occurring in 1955 (when there were four nine-day stretches). The Dow continuously moved higher eight months in a row (the last occurrence of this was in 1995). The year 2020 ended with 5 milestone records set.

Record Highs Set in 2020

The Dow hit one milestone and had 26 closing records in 2020. Of the 26 records set that year, 17 occurred after the presidential election. The index’s 2020 closing high was 19,974.62, set on Dec. 20, 2020.

The Dow suffered a market correction between Aug. 2020 and April 19, 2020, leading to a 2020 downturn. It began on Jan. 4, when the Dow closed 160 points lower as investors worried about a slowdown in China’s economic growth. 

By Jan. 7, 2020, the Dow had fallen 5.2% to 16,514.10, the worst yearly start ever. The next day, it dropped to 16,346.45. In that week, the Dow lost 1,078.58 points (6.18%) with the damage continuing.

By Jan. 20, it closed at 15,766.74, as investors panicked over plummeting oil prices, the devaluation of the yuan, and turmoil in China’s stock market. It then fell to a low of 15,660.18 on Feb. 11.

In July and August, the Dow rose as investors flocked to safe U.S. markets after turbulence rocked the European Union. On June 24, the Dow fell 610.32 points the day after Brexit (when the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU). This threatened U.S. businesses, the U.K.’s largest investors.

A Nov. streak occurred after Donald Trump’s presidential win on Nov. 8. Traders were confident in a business-friendly Republican president. The Dow closed above 19,000 on Nov. 22.

Record Highs Set in 2020

The Dow hit one milestone and six closing records in 2020. After setting the record high in May 2020, the Dow fell 531 points on Aug. 21, closing at 16,459.75.   On Aug. 24, Black Monday, it fell another 1,089 points in the first few minutes of trading to 15,370.33.

That correction was more than 16% lower than its all-time high set in May of the same year, putting the index into a correction but not a bear market. Investors worried that China’s yuan devaluation and the uncertainty over the Fed’s rate increase would push the index further downward.

The market closed higher at 15,871.39. The sell-off continued on Tuesday (Aug. 25) when the Dow closed at 15,666.44, but regained its upward momentum on Wednesday, closing at 16,285.51.

The Dow was volatile in 2020 because it was based on just a few companies. Record-low interest rates allowed firms such as Apple and IBM to borrow billions to buy back shares. These actions artificially raised their earnings-per-share and the prices of their remaining outstanding stocks (stocks which are still held by shareholders).

Record Highs Set in 2020

The Dow set three milestones in 2020 and set 39 closing records. Its low for the year was 15,372.80, reached on Feb. 3.   Share repurchases among the S&P 500 companies were 59% higher in the first quarter of 2020 than the first quarter in 2020. In total, $159.3 billion was spent. It was the largest amount since 2007, right before the stock market crashed.

On April 30, the Dow surpassed 16,000. On July 3, it broke 17,000; and on July 16, it hit a new record, before heading into a correction for two months.

The Federal Open Market Committee announced on Oct. 31 that it wouldn’t raise interest rates until 2020. Investors applauded the guarantee for lower interest rates for the remainder of 2020.

The index closed above 18,000 on Dec. 23, and then closed its high for the year at 18,053.71 on Dec. 26. The chart below shows four of those closing records, as they increase by the thousand.

Record Highs Set in 2020

Two Dow milestones were achieved in 2020. The Dow gained 3,472.56 points during 2020, higher than any prior year on record. Its percentage increase was 26.5%.

The index recovered from the Great Recession on March 5, 2020, closing at 14,253.77.   It took five years to surpass its previous record of 14,164.53 set on Oct. 9, 2007.

The Dow rose above 15,000 for the first time on May 7. There were 52 closing records for the year. The chart below shows 12 of those records:

Dow Jones Activity from 1929 to 2009

The Dow’s activity broke new records in terms of downward movement in 2009, and while it wasn’t as dramatic as the Great Depression, the drop happened much more quickly. After recovering from its Great Depression level, the Dow continued to be affected by several recessionary periods and crises leading up to the 2009 downturn.

2008–2009 Recession

The 2008 stock market crash was more dramatic than in any other downturn in U.S. history. The market fell more than 50% in just 17 months. This was less than the 90% drop during the Great Depression; however, it took almost four years for the market to bottom out at that time.

On Oct. 9, 2007, the Dow closed at its all-time high (pre-recession) of 14,164.43. However, fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth contracted 1%, announcing the start of the recession (it was later re-estimated at a positive 2.9%).

The Dow started to gradually decline. After the failure of Bear Stearns in April 2008 and a negative GDP report in Q2 2008, the Dow dropped to 11,000. Many analysts felt that this 20% decline was the market bottom—it wasn’t.

On Monday, Sept. 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers Holding, Inc. (an investment bank) declared bankruptcy. On Wednesday, panicky bankers withdrew $144 billion from money market funds, almost causing a collapse.

On Sept. 29, 2008, the Dow fell 777.68 points.   This was its most significant single-day point drop ever. Investors were stunned when the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a $700 billion bailout bill to save failing banks.

The Senate reintroduced the bailout as the Troubled Asset Relief Program on Oct. 3. Yet, the Dow plummeted 13% in Oct.. By Nov. 20, 2008, it fell to 7,552.29, a new low.

This was still not the real market bottom. The Dow climbed to 9,034.69 on Jan. 2, 2009, before screeching down to 6,594.44 on March 5, 2009.

On July 24, 2009, the Dow finally reversed course. It beat its January high, rising to 9,093.24 by the close of the day.

Stock market gains since the 2008 financial crisis were mediocre in volume. Only three days traded more than 200 million shares, a level similar to the late 1990s. Volume fell after the recession and didn’t return.

2001 Recession

The Dow peaked on Jan. 14, 2000, closing at 11,722.98, thanks to the boom in internet businesses.   It was the end of one of the greatest bull markets in U.S. history. The Dow had risen 1,409% since its 776.82 close on Aug. 12, 1982.

It started falling soon afterward, hitting its first bottom of 9,796 on March 7, 2001. This began the 2001 recession. The Dow bounced around until the markets closed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. When the markets reopened on Sept. 17, 2001, the Dow dropped to 8,920.70.

The threat of war drove the Dow down until Oct. 9, 2002. On that day, it closed at 7,286.27, a 37.8% decline from its peak. The recession ended in Nov., with no one knowing for sure if a new bull market had begun—until the Dow hit a higher low on March 11, 2003, closing at 7,524.06.

1998 Currency Crisis

On July 2, 1997, Thailand cut its peg to the dollar after failing to defend its currency from speculative attacks. 

Currency values fell throughout Southeast Asia. On Oct. 27, 1997, the Dow fell 554.26 points for its biggest point loss ever at that time.   It closed at 7,161.15, a 7% loss, resulting in the U.S. stock market suspending trading.​

On Aug. 17, 1998, Russia devalued the ruble and defaulted on its bonds.   By Aug. 31, the Dow had fallen 13%, from 8,714.64 on Aug. 18 to 7,539.04 on Aug. 31. The Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund almost collapsed, threatening to push its banking investors into bankruptcy. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan convinced them to support the hedge fund, averting further disaster.

1990–1991 Recession

On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. The Dow fell 17% in three months, from 2,864.60 on Aug. 2 to 2,365.10 on Oct. 11, 1990. 

1987 Stock Market Crash

On Oct. 19, 1987, the Dow fell 23%, from 2,246.73 to 1,738.74.   The Black Monday stock market crash may have been caused by computer trading that forced sell orders when the market turned down. The Dow didn’t regain it’s Aug. 25, 1987 peak of 2,722.42 for two years. The loss of liquidity from this crash led to the savings and loan crisis in 1989.

1980–1982 Recession

The Dow dropped 16%, from a high of 903.84 on Feb. 13, 1980, to a low of 759.13 on April 21, 1980.   The Federal Reserve, under Paul Volcker, lowered the federal funds rate (the interest rate for banks to loan money overnight to each other) to 8.5% in response.

The Dow rose to 1,004.32 on April 28, 1981. The Fed then raised rates to combat inflation, which reduced business spending. By Aug.12, 1982, the Dow had dropped 22.6% to 776.92.

1973–1975 Recession

On Dec. 4, 1974, the Dow closed at 598.64.   It had fallen 45% from its peak of 1,051.70 on Jan. 11, 1973. President Nixon helped create this recession by ending the gold standard.

1970 Recession

The Dow dropped 30% between Dec. 3, 1968, and May 26, 1970. It fell from a high of 985.21 to a low of 631.16. 

1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

The United States launched a trade embargo against Cuba on Feb. 7, 1962.     The Dow dropped 26.5% from its post-election height of 728.8 on Dec. 1, 1961, to its June 26, 1962, low of 535.76.   Tensions escalated on Oct. 14, 1962, when U.S. spy satellites discovered Soviet nuclear missile bases in Cuba.

President John F. Kennedy demanded the removal of the weapons and launched a 13-day naval quarantine to prevent ships from reaching Cuba, which may have held weapons from the Soviets. 

An agreement was finally reached between the Soviet Union and the United States, in which Kennedy agreed to remove all nuclear missiles set in Turkey on the border of the Soviet Union in exchange for Khrushchev removing all missiles from Cuba. The Dow dropped 2% the day after JFK’s Oct. 22 speech. The crisis ended on Oct. 28, 1962.

1960 Recession

The Dow fell 13.9% from 679.36 on Dec. 31, 1959, to 585.24 on Nov. 1, 1960.   It closely followed the economic downturn of the recession, which started in April 1960. It lasted 10 months, until Feb. 1961 when President Kennedy used stimulus spending to end it.

Recession of 1957

The Dow dropped 14.1%, from 506.21 on Aug. 1, 1957, to 434.71 on Nov. 1, 1957.   The drop corresponded to the eight-month recession, a period from Aug. 1957 to April 1958, as a result of the Fed’s contractionary monetary policy.

Recession of 1953

The Dow fell 10.1% from 292.14 on Jan. 2, 1953, to 262.54 on Sept. 1, 1953.   On Nov. 23, 1954, the Dow hit a new high of 382.74. It had taken 25 years for it to beat the pre-Depression high of 381.17, set on Sept. 3, 1929.

The downturn reflected a 10-month recession, from July 1953 to May 1954, during the military demobilization following the Korean War.

1949 Recession

The Dow dropped 16% from 193.16 on June 15, 1948, to 161.60 on June 13, 1949.   It did so in relation to an 11-month period between November 1948 and October 1949, when the economy began its adjustment to peacetime production levels.

1945 Recession

The Dow rose 19.2% during this recession, which lasted between February and October 1945. It was at 153.79 on Feb. 1, 1945, and rose to 183.37 on Oct. 1, 1945.   The economy contracted 10.6% because government spending dropped when World War II ended. But business spending was robust, which boosted stock market performance.

The Great Depression

The Dow fell 90% in less than four years. It was at 381.17 on Sept. 3, 1929—by July 8, 1932, it was just 41.22.   The kickoff to the Dow’s slide was the stock market crash of 1929, but the Great Depression had already started in Aug. 1929, when the economy contracted.

The market crash began on Oct. 24, Black Thursday, and continued until Black Tuesday. Stock prices fell 23%, causing investors to lose $30 billion (the equivalent of $396 billion today). The public was terrified because that was more than the entire cost of World War I. It took 25 years for the Dow to regain its Sept. 1929 high.

The Dow Jones reaches 29,000 for the 1st time in history

Uncertainty in the Middle East has not deterred investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a record high Friday morning, briefly touching 29,000 for the first time in history.

Investors continued to push stocks higher despite a Friday Labor Department jobs report that fell short of economists expectations, and as geopolitical tensions mount between the U.S. and Iran.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq similarly saw gains despite a volatile trading week.

The Dow’s gains were led by pharmaceutical maker Pfizer — possibly because of the notable gains in health care jobs in Friday’s jobs report — as well as tech giants.

President Donald Trump tweeted just prior to the Dow surpassing 29,000, writing that this has never happened before and, preemptively congratulating himself, writing: “The best is yet to come!”

Dow notches record high, closing above 27,000 for first time

Breaking News Emails

The stock market hit fresh records Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average notching a historic first close above 27,000 amid reinforced expectations of a rate cut and strong performance by health insurance stocks.

The Dow breached the 27,000 mark in early morning trading, maintaining a strong performance throughout the day to close at 27,088, up by 227 points. The S&P 500, which hit a record intraday high of 3,000 Wednesday, closed at a fresh high of 2999.89 Thursday, up 0.23 percent.

Shares in Cigna, United Health, and CVS all soared Thursday after President Donald Trump decided not to move forward with a plan to ban “backdoor rebates” for pharmacy benefit managers, which could have impacted the way insurers negotiate discounts on pharmaceuticals from manufacturers.

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Investors also cheered the increasing certainty of the first rate cut in a decade, after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell spoke for a second day on Capitol Hill as part of his twice-yearly testimony on monetary policy.

“We’re learning that interest rates — that the neutral interest rate — is lower than we had thought,” Powell said. “I think we’re learning that the natural rate of unemployment is lower than we thought. So monetary policy hasn’t been as accommodative as we had thought.”

His comments further cemented expectations for a cut in the central bank’s benchmark interest rate, for which markets — and Trump — have been clamoring in recent weeks, noting economic headwinds and ongoing trade tensions.

Despite a robust jobs report last month that dialed back the notion that U.S. economic growth was sputtering, investors have priced in a rate cut of between 0.25 percent and 0.5 percent, ahead of the Fed’s July 30-31 monetary policy meeting.

President Donald Trump praised the employment report, saying the economy “would be like a rocket ship,” if the Federal Reserve were to cut rates. “But we don’t have a Fed that knows what it’s doing,” he said last week.

The Dow crossed 26,000 on Jan. 16, 2020, just 12 days after hitting a previous record high of 25,000, bolstered by Trump’s fiscal stimulus plan and tax reform measures.

The blue-chip index has chalked up gains of close to 16 percent this year.

Lucy Bayly is the business editor for NBC News.

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