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Stock Market Basics

What Is the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Written by Sam Levine, CFA, CMT
Fact-checked by Dayana Yochim
Edited by Carolyn Kimball

March 13, 2024

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a stock market index managed by S&P Dow Jones Indices that tracks the price performance of 30 U.S. publicly traded stocks.

Quick take: The stocks in the DJIA are chosen by a committee within S&P Dow Jones Indices. Its Index Committee considers a company’s reputation, sustained growth rate, and interest from investors before adding or dropping it from the index. Stocks in the transportation and utility sectors are excluded.

Tell me more! The DJIA was created by Charles Dow and first published in 1896. The index is calculated by summing the stock prices of all 30 companies and dividing the total by a factor that accounts for stock splits. That method biases the index toward higher-priced stocks; a 1% move in a $200 stock will affect the DJIA than a 1% move in a $50 stock.

One more thing: Professionals are less reliant on the Dow Jones Industrial Average today because they view 30 companies as being too few to describe market action. The pros often prefer broader indices, such as the S&P 500. That may be splitting hairs. CNBC calculated that the two indices moved in the same direction 94% of the time over the past 15 years.

Bottom line: Though the Dow is frequently cited in the press, you will be more diversified if you invest in a broader index, such as the S&P 500 or the Russell 3000 (which includes mid- and small-cap stocks).

business Did you know?

The stocks within the DJIA have changed only 57 times since its beginning in 1896. General Electric was the last original index component until it was removed in 2018.

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About the Editorial Team

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT
Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Sam Levine is a writer, investor and educator with nearly three decades of experience in the investing industry. His specialty is making even the most complicated investing concepts easy to understand for beginning and intermediate investors. He holds two of the most widely recognized certifications in the investment management industry, the Chartered Financial Analyst and the Chartered Market Technician designations. Previously, he was a contributing editor at BetterInvesting Magazine and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder and other media outlets.

Dayana Yochim
Dayana Yochim

Dayana Yochim has been writing (articles, books, podcasts, stirring speeches) about personal finance and investing for more than two decades, focusing on bringing clarity and the occasional comedic aside to what is often a murky, humorless topic. She’s written for NerdWallet, The Motley Fool,, Woman’s Day, Forbes, Newsweek and others, and been a guest expert on "Today," "Good Morning America," CNN, NPR and wherever they’ll hand her a mic.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is Managing Editor for Reink Media Group and the lead editor for content on Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

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