Dow Highest Closing Records
The DJIA Top Highs and Lows Since 1929
The Dow Jones Industrial Average's highest closing record is 28,038.65 set on November 18, 2019. Investors were relieved that the trade wars initiated by President Donald Trump might soon be resolved. They were also cheered by the Federal Reserve's three interest rate cuts.
The stock market historically performs similarly to the economy. A bear market occurs during a recession and a bull market during an expansion. Since August 22, 2018, the current bull market has been the longest-running in U.S. history.
So far in 2019, the Dow has hit two milestones and set 12 record closes. On June 11, 2019, the Dow moved above the 2018 record during intra-day trading. It hit 26,885 at 11:05 ET. But it did not set a new record at the close. On July 3, the Dow hit a new high when the Trump administration announced it would resume trade negotiations with China, averting additional tariffs. It hit a milestone on July 10, closing above 27,000. (In the tables below, milestones are in bold.)
Trade negotiations broke down until November. The Dow responded with new highs.
Records Highs Set in 2018
The Dow hit three 1,000-point milestones in 2018. It hit two of them in the first few weeks in January. It closed above 25,000 on January 4, and it breached 26,000 on January 17. The index set 15 closing records in 2018.
The records set in the fall were the first ones since the Dow reached 26,616.71 on January 26, 2018. After hitting that peak, the Dow went into free fall, dropping 4% the next week. On February 8, it entered a market correction when it fell 1,032.89 points to 23,860.46.
On August 27, 2018, the Dow ended a six-month correction when it reached 26,049.64, which was 10% above its closing low of 25,533.20, reached on March 23. Investors were encouraged by progress on Trump's North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation. It had been the longest correction since 1961 when it was in correction for 223 sessions.
Records Highs Set in 2017
The index set 70 closing records in 2017. For the first time, the Dow reached five 1,000-point milestones in one year. On January 25, 2017, the Dow hit 20,000.77 just moments after the New York Stock Exchange opened at 9:30 a.m. EST. It closed at 20,068.51. That was just 42 trading sessions after it closed above 19,000. That is the second-fastest rise in U.S. history. The record is the 24 sessions it took to go from 10,000 to 21,000 in 1999.
On March 1, 2017, it closed above 21,000, which followed a 12-day run, the longest such streak since the record 13-day stretch in 1987. When the Dow breached 22,000 on August 2, 2017, it was the first time it hit three such milestones in one year. The index closed above 23,000 on October 18, 2017; and slightly more than a month later, it broke 24,000.
The Dow had two streaks lasting more than 10 days, which last happened in 1959. It had three nine-day runs, which last occurred in 1955 when there were four nine-day stretches. The Dow moved higher for eight months in a row, which occurred previously in 1995. These are the 5 milestone records set in 2017.
Records Highs Set in 2016
The Dow hit one milestone and 26 closing records in 2016. The Dow's 2016 closing high was 19,974.62, set on December 20, 2016. The Dow's November streak came after falling 638 points, or 3.4%, in futures trading, as investors initially reacted to Trump's unexpected presidential win on November 8. Traders regained confidence after Trump struck a cooperative tone in Wednesday morning's acceptance speech.
On November 22, the Dow closed above 19,000. Of the 26 records set in 2016, 17 occurred after the presidential election.
Before that, the Dow was in a market correction between August 2015 and April 19, 2016. It fell to a low of 15,660.18 on February 11. The 2016 downturn began January 4 when the Dow fell 467 points, as investors worried about a slowdown in China's economic growth. Two days later it dropped another 400 points when China changed how it pegs the yuan to the dollar. By January 7, the Dow had fallen 5.2% to 16,514.10, the worst yearly start ever. The next day, it dropped to 16,346.45. For the week, the Dow lost 1,078.58 points or 6.18% with the damage continuing. By January 20, it fell to 15,464.97 in intraday trading but closed at 15,766.74, as investors panicked over plummeting oil prices, the devaluation of the yuan, and turmoil in China's stock market.
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. This was when the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU and threatened U.S. businesses, U.K.'s largest investors. On July 13, the United Kingdom elected a new prime minister. On July 14, a terrorist attacked the French resort town of Nice. On July 15, the Turkish military failed in a coup attempt on President Recep Erdogan's government.
Records Highs Set in 2015
The Dow hit one milestone and six closing records in 2015. After setting the record high in May 2015, the Dow fell 531 points on August 21, closing at 16,459.75. On August 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, putting it into a correction but not a bear market. Investors worried about China's yuan devaluation and the uncertainty over the Fed's rate increase. The market closed higher at 15,871.39. The sell-off continued on Tuesday when the Dow closed at 15,666.44, but regained its upward momentum on Wednesday, closing at 16,285.51
Why was the Dow so volatile? Just a few companies were responsible for the 2015 highs. Companies such as Apple and IBM borrowed billions to buy back shares, thanks to record-low interest rates. It artificially raised their earnings-per-share and the prices of the remaining outstanding stocks. One analyst said that 99 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 boosted their earnings-per-share by 4% just by lowering the number of shares outstanding. These are the six records set in 2015.
Records Highs Set in 2014
The Dow set three milestones in 2014. On April 30, it surpassed 16,000. On July 3, it broke 17,000; and on July 16, it hit a new record, before heading into correction territory for two months. It closed above 18,000 on December 23.
There were 39 closing records set in 2014. The Dow closed its high for the year at 18,053.71 on December 26. Its low for the year was 15,372.80, reached on February 3. On October 31, the Federal Open Market Committee announced it wouldn't raise interest rates until 2015. Investors applauded the guarantee for lower interest rates for the remainder of 2014.
Share repurchases among the S&P 500 companies were 59% higher in the first quarter of 2014 than the first quarter in 2013. In total, $159.3 billion was spent. It was the largest amount since 2007, right before the stock market crashed.
The chart below shows four of those closing records, as they increase by the thousand.
Stock market gains since the 2008 financial crisis were on mediocre 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.
Records Highs Set in 2013
Two Dow milestones were achieved in 2013. The Dow gained 3,472.56 points during 2013, higher than any prior year on record. Its percentage increase was 26.5%.
It recovered from the Great Recession on March 5, 2013, and closed at 14,253.77, taking five years to surpass its previous record of 14,164.53 set on October 9, 2007. It rose above 15,000 for the first time on May 7. These are the 52 closing records for the year, and 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.
The 2008 stock market crash was more dramatic than in any other downturn. It fell more than 50% in just 17 months. Although this was less than the 90% drop during the Great Depression, that loss took almost four years to happen.
On October 9, 2007, the Dow closed at its pre-recession all-time high of 14,164.43. But, 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 declining gradually. 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, September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. On Wednesday, panicky bankers withdrew $144 billion from money market funds, almost causing a collapse.
On September 29, 2008, the Dow fell 777.68 points. That was its most significant single-day point drop ever. Investors were stunned that 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 October 3. Yet, the Dow plummeted 13% in October. By November 20, 2008, it fell to 7,552.29, a new low.
That was still not the real market bottom. The Dow climbed to 9,034.69 on January 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 close of day.
The Dow peaked on January 14, 2000, closing at 11,722.98, thanks to the boom in internet businesses. It was the end of the greatest bull market in U.S. history. The Dow had risen 1,409% since its 776.82 close on August 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 September 17, 2001, the Dow dropped to 8,920.70. Threats of war drove the Dow down until October 9, 2002. On that day, it closed at 7,286.27, a 37.8% decline from its peak. The recession ended in November. No one knew 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 October 27, 1997, the Dow fell 554.26 points for its biggest point loss ever until then. It closed at 7,161.15, a 7% loss. The stock market suspended trading.
On August 17, 1998, Russia devalued the ruble and defaulted on its bonds. By August 31, the Dow had fallen 13%, from 8,714.64 on August 18 to 7,539.04 on August 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.
On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. The Dow fell 17% in three months, from 2,864.60 on August 2 to 2,365.10 on October 11, 1990.
1987 Stock Market Crash
On October 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 its August 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.
The Dow dropped 16%, from a high of 903.84 on February 13, 1980, to a low of 759.13 on April 21, 1980. The Federal Reserve, under Paul Volcker, lowered the fed funds rate 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 August 12, 1982, the Dow had dropped 22.6% to 776.92.
On December 4, 1974, the Dow closed at 598.64. It had fallen 45% from its peak of 1,051.70 on January 11, 1973. President Nixon helped create this recession by ending the gold standard.
The Dow dropped 30% between December 31, 1968, and May 26, 1970, from 908.92 to 631.60.
1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
The United States launched a trade embargo against Cuba on February 7, 1962. The Dow dropped 26.5% from its post-election height of 728.8 on December 1, 1961, to its June 26, 1962, low of 535.76. Tensions escalated on October 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 October 22 speech. The crisis ended on October 28, 1962.
The Dow fell 13.9% from 679.36 on December 31, 1959, to 585.24 on November 1, 1960. It closely followed the economic downturn of the recession, which started in April 1960. It lasted 10 months, until February 1961 when Kennedy used stimulus spending to end it.
Recession of 1957
The Dow dropped 14.1%, from 506.21 on August 1, 1957, to 434.71 on November 1, 1957. It corresponded to the eight-month recession, a period from August 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 January 2, 1953, to 262.54 on September 1, 1953. On November 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 September 3, 1929.
The downturn reflected the 10-month recession, from July 1953 to May 1954, during demobilization after the Korean War.
The Dow dropped 16% from 193.16 on June 15, 1948, to 161.60 on June 13, 1949. It corresponded to the 11-month period between November 1948 and October 1949, during the economy's adjustment to peacetime production.
The Dow rose 19.2% during this recession, which lasted between February and October 1945. It was at 153.79 on February 1, 1945, and rose to 183.37 on October 1, 1945. The economy contracted 10.6% because government spending dropped when World War II ended. But business spending was robust, boosting the stock market.
The Great Depression
The Dow fell 90% in less than four years. It was at 381.17 on September 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 August 1929, when the economy contracted.
The crash began on October 24, Black Thursday, and continued until Black Tuesday. Stock prices fell 23%. Investors lost $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 September 3 high.
Yahoo Finance. "Dow Closing History 2017," Accessed Nov. 20, 2019.