Dow Jones

DEFINITION The Dow Jones, the Dow 30, or simply the Dow, is a stock market index, and one of several indices created by Wall Street Journal editor and Dow Jones & Company co-founder Charles Dow. The average is named after Dow and one of his business associates, statistician Edward Jones. It is an index that shows how 30 large, publicly owned companies based in the United States have traded during a standard trading session in the stock market. It is the second oldest U.S. market index after the Dow Jones Transportation Average, which was also created by Dow.
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Along with the NASDAQ Composite, the S&P 500 Index, and the Russell 2000 Index, the Dow is among the most closely watched U.S. benchmark indices tracking targeted stock market activity. Although Dow compiled the index to gauge the performance of the industrial sector within the American economy, the index's performance continues to be influenced by not only corporate and economic reports, but also by domestic and foreign political events such as war and terrorism, as well as by natural disasters that could potentially lead to economic harm. Components of the Dow trade on both the NASDAQ OMX and the NYSE Euronext, two of the largest stock market companies. Derivatives of the Dow trade on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and through the CME Group, the world's largest futures exchange company, which owns 90% of the indexing business founded by Dow Jones, including the Industrial Average. With the current inclusion of only 30 stocks, critics like Ric Edelman argue that the DJIA is not a very accurate representation of overall market performance. Still, it is the most cited and most widely recognized of the stock market indices. Additionally, the DJIA is criticized for being a price-weighted average, which gives higher-priced stocks more influence over the average than their lower-priced counterparts, but takes no account of the relative industry size or market capitalization of the components. For example, a $1 increase in a lower-priced stock can be negated by a $1 decrease in a much higher-priced stock, even though the lower-priced stock experienced a larger percentage change. In addition, a $1 move in the smallest component of the DJIA has the same effect as a $1 move in the largest component of the average. As of June 2012, IBM and Chevron are among the highest priced stocks in the average and therefore have the greatest influence on it. Alternately, Bank of America and Alcoa are among the lowest priced stocks in the average and have the least amount of sway in the price movement. Many critics of the DJIA recommend the float-adjusted market-value weighted S&P 500 or the Wilshire 5000, the latter of which includes all U.S. equity securities, as better indicators of the U.S. stock market.

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