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 29,297.64 set on January 16, 2020. Investors were encouraged that the trade wars initiated by President Donald Trump might soon be resolved. They also liked the Federal Reserve's three interest rate cuts in 2019.
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 2019
In 2019, 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 2019, even though trade negotiations had broken down until November. It hit a milestone on July 11, closing above 27,000, and then another on November 15—closing above 28,000 (in the tables below, milestones are in bold).
Record 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, closing above 25,000 on January 4. The index breached 26,000 on January 17, then continued on to set 15 closing records in the rest of 2018.
The records set in the fall were the first ones since the Dow reached 26,616.71 on January 26, 2018. After hitting the January 26 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.
Investors were encouraged by the progress made on Trump's North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation. On August 27, 2018, 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.
Record 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 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, 2017, 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 August 2, 2017, it became the first time to hit three such milestones in one year.
The index closed above 23,000 on October 18, 2017; 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 2017 ended with 5 milestone records set.
Record Highs Set in 2016
The Dow hit one milestone and had 26 closing records in 2016. Of the 26 records set that year, 17 occurred after the presidential election. The index's 2016 closing high was 19,974.62, set on December 20, 2016.
The Dow suffered a market correction between August 2015 and April 19, 2016, leading to a 2016 downturn. It began on January 4, when the Dow closed 160 points lower as investors worried about a slowdown in China's economic growth.
By Jan. 7, 2016, 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 January 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 February 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 November streak occurred after Donald Trump's presidential win on November 8. Traders were confident in a business-friendly Republican president. The Dow closed above 19,000 on November 22.
Record 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 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 (August 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 2015 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 2014
The Dow set three milestones in 2014 and set 39 closing records. Its low for the year was 15,372.80, reached on February 3. 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.
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 October 31 that it wouldn't raise interest rates until 2015. Investors applauded the guarantee for lower interest rates for the remainder of 2014.
The index closed above 18,000 on December 23, and then closed its high for the year at 18,053.71 on December 26. The chart below shows four of those closing records, as they increase by the thousand.
Record 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%.
The index recovered from the Great Recession on March 5, 2013, closing at 14,253.77. It took five years to surpass its previous record of 14,164.53 set on October 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.
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 October 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, September 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 September 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 October 3. Yet, the Dow plummeted 13% in October. By November 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 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 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.
The Dow peaked on January 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 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.
The threat 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, 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 October 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 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 it's 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 (the Fed), 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 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 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 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 President 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. The drop 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 a 10-month recession, from July 1953 to May 1954, during the military demobilization following the Korean War.
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.
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, which boosted stock market performance.
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 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 September 1929 high.
S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC. "Dow Jones Industrial Average." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.
S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC. "Dow Jones Industrial Average," Download DJIA Daily Performance History. Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.
MarketWatch. “The Dow Registered Its Longest Stint in Correction Territory in Nearly 60 Years.” Accessed Jan. 21, 2020.
MarketWatch. “That’ll Do, Dow: The Average’s 9-Day Rally is Over-But Still Historic.” Accessed Jan. 21, 2020.
CNBC. “The Dow Just Did Something It Hasn’t Done in 58 Years.” Accessed Jan. 21, 2020.
CNBC. “Dow Rips 331 Points Higher, Closes Above 24,000 as Chances of Senate Tax Bill Passing Rise.” Accessed Jan. 21, 2020.
Forbes. “Why Are Stocks Still Rising? Is this A Bubble?” Accessed Jan. 21, 2020.
The Wall Street Journal. “Dow Rockets. Volumes Plummet.” Accessed Jan. 21, 2020.
Federal Reserve History. "Asian Financial Crisis," Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.
Bauer, College of Business, University of Houston. “Case Study: LCTM.” Accessed Jan. 21, 2020.
Council on Foreign Relations. “U.S.-Cuba Relations.” Accessed Jan. 21, 2020.
U.S. Department of State. “Cuba.” Accessed Jan. 21, 2020.
National Archives. "Forty Years Ago: The Cuban Missile Crisis." Access Jan. 15, 2020.