Table of Contents

What is the highest the DOW has ever been?

What has been the Dow’s largest, single-day point gain?

What have been the Dow’s highest records since 2020?

What is the lowest the Dow has ever been?

A brief history of the Dow Jones from 1929–2013

What the market’s highs and lows mean for you

LearnStock MarketDow Jones: Top Highs and Lows Since 1929

Dow Jones: Top Highs and Lows Since 1929

Aug 31, 2022


10 min read

Take a look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the course of its history and you also have a reliable history of the U.S. stock market. Its peaks and valleys shed light on the workings — and volatility — of the global economy.

Mr. Dow Jones. Who is he, and why does he matter? For starters, the Dow Jones we know is not a person — but you already knew that. Named for its two founders, the Dow Jones is a stock market index, just like the S&P 500 or the Nasdaq. And for most of the U.S. stock market’s history, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been a reliable guide for the health of the American economy, capturing the market’s highs, lows, bull market runs, and shocking crashes.

The Dow Jones stock market index (also known as the Dow or DIJA) tracks 30 large, blue-chip companies on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. After the Dow Jones Transportation Index, it is the second oldest U.S. stock market index still in use. Formed in 1896, the Dow differs from the S&P 500 and Nasdaq in that it weighs stock by price rather than by market capitalization (i.e., the process of multiplying share prices by the number of outstanding shares).

What is the highest the DOW has ever been?

As of March 2022, the Dow Jones’s all-time high at market close was 36,799.65, which took place two months earlier, on Jan. 4, 2022. It climbed higher the following day to 36,952.65, but eventually closed below its all-time high.

The Dow has consistently hit new highs since the U.S. stock market’s all-time longest bull market started in 2009. This bull run intensified during the two year period between 2019 and when the Dow reached its all-time high in January 2022. World events that contributed to this bull run included:

  • Trade talks between the U.S. and China, which led to 22 record closes in 2019
  • President Donald Trump’s transition out of office in late 2020, which led to the Dow breaking the 30,000 mark
  • Promising news that the COVID-19 pandemic would not require further lockdowns, leading to consistent high closes in 2021

What has been the Dow’s largest, single-day point gain?

The Dow gained 2,117.72 points — the biggest single-day point gain in history — on March 24, 2020 after President Trump announced that the country could be up and running like normal by Easter.

Nearly all the Dow’s historic point gains occurred in 2020 after news of things like stimulus packages and vaccines, but the Dow also experienced historic losses in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the global economy.

What have been the Dow’s highest records since 2020?

2020 records

In 2020, the Dow set a record high of 28,868.80 on Jan. 2 and another record a week later. It reached yet another milestone of 29,000 on Jan. 15. After experiencing three of the biggest drops in history during the spring of 2020, it broke 30,000 on Nov. 24 and ended the year at a record high of 30,606.48.

2021 records

In 2021, the Dow crossed the 31,000 mark on Jan. 7, reaching an all-time high on Jan. 20 of 31.188.38. News of COVID-19 pandemic recovery — substantiated by strong retail sales and lower unemployment — helped to spur this high.

On March 10, the Dow closed above 32,000 for the first time and then closed above 33,000 on March 17. On April 15, it reached a new high, closing at 34,035.99. It rose further during the year, closing at a new record high of 35,625.40 on Aug. 16.

2022 records

2022 started off strong with the Dow closing at 36,799.65 on Jan. 4, the fund’s highest close to date. However, most stock market indexes — including the Dow — declined over the course of the months that followed due to the Federal Reserve’s tighter monetary policies, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rising energy prices, and lingering concerns around new variants of COVID-19.

What is the lowest the Dow has ever been?

In recent years, investors have become accustomed to record highs for the Dow, but there have also been a few pronounced drops. That said, we’ve never seen a fall as dramatic as the stock market crash of 1929, after which the Dow lost nearly 90% of its value over the course of three years. In 1932, it reached its all-time low of 41.22.

Largest drop in one year period

The Dow’s most volatile period in recent history took place during the Great Recession of 2007–2008. On Oct. 9, 2007, the Dow hit a pre-recession high, closing at 14,164.53 despite growing concerns around the subprime mortgage crisis. Leading up to the Great Recession, banks had offered easy home loans to virtually everyone, including those with bad credit. Falling home prices throughout 2007 prompted defaults on subprime mortgages. The Federal Reserve began buying banks’ mortgages as they recognized that banks did not have adequate liquidity.

Heading into 2008, unemployment was mounting, economic growth had slowed, and the Federal Reserve had to prop up Bear Stearns, a struggling investment bank. By the middle of 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department had to bail out the government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac agencies, guaranteeing $25 billion of their mortgage loans and $300 billion in new loans. The Lehman Brothers investment bank declared bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008 and the Dow dropped more than 200 points. A day later, the Federal Reserve announced that it would bail out the insurance company known as the American International Group, which had run out of cash paying off credit default swaps it had issued against the failed mortgage-backed securities. On Sept. 1, the Dow fell 449.36 points.

On Sept. 29, 2008 — after Congress couldn’t agree on passing a bill to spend $700 billion to prop up the U.S. financial systems — the Dow fell by 777.68 points. As 2008 came to a close, the Dow sat at 8,779.39, down almost 34% for the year. By March 5, 2009, the market had fallen by more than half of its previous high point and the Dow closed at 6,594.44.

Following the Great Recession, it took about five years for the stock market to recover. The Dow returned to its pre-recession highs in March 2013.

The Dow’s largest, single-day percentage drop

When the stock market crashed on October 19, 1987 — a date known colloquially as Black Monday — the Dow experienced its largest percentage drop in history, a whopping 22.6% decrease in a single day.

The Dow’s largest, single-day point drop

The largest single-day drop for the Dow occurred on March 16, 2020. It dropped 2,997 points after President Trump announced that COVID-19 shutdowns could extend until August of that year. The Dow had already dropped by 2,013.76 points on March 3, and 2,352.60 points on March 12 based on continued concern over the coronavirus, plus fears of an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

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A brief history of the Dow Jones from 1929–2013

The Great Depression

From 1929 to 1932, the Dow falls 90% in less than four years during The Great Depression, reaching its low of 41.22 on July 8, 1932. It takes 25 years to return to its September 1929 high.

The 1945 recession

The Dow rises 19.2% during a post-war recession thanks to strong business spending, even after a decrease in government wartime spending.

The 1948–49 recession

The U.S. economy begins to adjust to peacetime production levels, and the Dow drops 16% from 193.16 on June 15, 1948 to 161.60 on June 13, 1949.

The 1953 recession

The Dow falls 10.1% on Jan. 2 to 262.54 on Sept. 1, then reaches a new high of 382.74 on Nov. 23, 1954. Military demobilization after the Korean War causes a 10-month recession, after which the Dow finally beats its pre-Depression high.

The 1960 recession

An economic downturn results in the Dow falling 13.9% on Dec. 31, 1959, all the to 585.24 by Nov. 1, 1960. In February 1961, President John F. Kennedy leans on stimulus spending to end the recession.

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

The U.S. enacts a trade embargo against Cuba on Feb. 7, 1962, and the Dow drops 26.5% to 536.76 in June. The crisis ends on Oct. 28, 1962.

The 1970 recession

Between Dec. 3, 1968, and May 26, 1970, the Dow drops 30% to a recession low of 651.16.

The 1973–75 recession

The Dow fell 45% from 1,051.70 on Jan. 11, 1973, to 598.64 on Dec. 4, 1974, in part due to President Richard M. Nixon’s ending the gold standard.

The 1980–82 recession

After a 16% drop from a 903.84 high on Feb. 13, 1980 to 759.13 on April 21, 1980, the Federal Reserve lowers the federal funds rate (i.e., the interest rate for banks to loan money overnight to each other) to 8.5%. The Dow rises to 1,024.05 on April 27, 1981. The Federal Reserve then raises rates to combat inflation, which in turn reduces business spending. The Dow drops 22.4% to 776.92 by Aug. 12, 1982.

The 1987 stock market crash

The Dow experiences its largest single-day percentage drop of 22.6% on Oct. 19,1987. This so-called Black Monday crash is caused in part by computer trading that forces sell orders when the market trends down.

The 1990–91 recession

Iraq invades Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990 and the Dow falls 17% in three months.

The 1998 currency crisis

Thailand ends its peg of the baht to the U.S. dollar and currency values fall in Southeast Asia. The Dow falls 554.26 points on Oct. 27 1997, its biggest point loss at that time, and the U.S. stock market suspends trading. On Aug. 17, 1998, Russia devalues the ruble and defaults on its bonds. The Dow starts to fall the next day from 8,714.64 to 7,539.06 by Aug. 31, a 13% drop.

The 2001 recession

The Dow sees the end of a long bull market on Jan. 14, 2000, in part due to the strength of the Internet business and the subsequent bursting of the dot-com bubble. It then falls on March 7, 2000, rebounds to 11,124.83 on April 25, and falls again to 9,973.46 by March 14, 2001, beginning the 2001 recession. It then enters a period of volatility and drops to 8,920.70 after markets open following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The recession ends in November 2002 after a period of war-related uncertainty.

The 2008–09 recession

The Sept. 29, 2008 stock market crash is among the most dramatic economic events of U.S. history to date. Although the market’s 50% drop is less than the Great Depression’s 90% drop, it takes only 17 months to reach that low, compared to a period of four years in the 1930s. The Dow falls 13% in October 2008 and hits a new low for the year of 7,552.29 in November 2008. It reaches its lowest point of 6,594.44 on March 5, 2009 during a bear market.

‍2008 milestones

In the midst of a recession, the Dow has two milestone days of gains. On Oct. 13, 2008, the Dow gains 936 points after governments and central banks pour money into the markets to jumpstart the global economy. Two weeks later, on Oct. 28, the Dow rises 889 points, fueled by optimism that the Federal Reserve would cut the interest rate.

‍2013 recovery

The Dow closes at 14,253.77 on March 15, 2013, finally recovering from its Great Recession losses. By this point, it had taken five years to surpass its previous record of 14,164.53. Over the course of 2013, the Dow reaches several milestones: it gains 26.5% for the year (higher than any year on record) and rises above 15,000 for the first time in May, and then above 16,000 in November.

What the market’s highs and lows mean for you

The Dow’s history underscores the inevitable volatility of the stock market. But just because the stock market is volatile doesn’t mean you should shy away from investing in it. In fact, there are plenty of strategies for weathering the stock market’s highs and lows, including prioritizing time in the market over timing the market prioritizing time in the market over timing the market. Titan helps you take advantage of both of these strategies by providing you with a diversified portfolio that enables healthy investing habits. Learn more about how to invest despite the market’s dips by downloading Titan’s app today.


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