The Top 10 Dow Jones Industrial Average Factoids – 2017 in Review

OK, that might be hyperbole.  This may not be the Top 10.  Let’s just say it’s a Top 10.  Regardless, it’s hard to deny that 2017 was a standout year for US equity markets.  To wit:

  1. At the Close – despite losing 118+ points during the final trading session, the DJIA ends the year at 24,719.22, close to its all-time high, and having advanced just shy of 5000 points for an annual gain of 25.08%. That performance is the best since 2013 when the DJIA gained 26.50%.
  2. Prominent Themes – Trump’s inauguration and subsequent grappling with his new administration, a major continuation of the bull market, mixed legislative results from Congress, improving corporate and economic data, a dearth of volatility and varied geopolitical issues including repeated threats from North Korea’s nuclear program.
  3. New Highs – In 2017, the DJIA reached more new highs – 71 in total – than any year in history. Put another way, more than 1 of every 4 trading days closed in record territory.  By comparison, 1995 and 1925 were in the #2 and #3 slots with 69 and 65 new highs respectively. There have been 52 calendar years when the DJIA notched at least 1 new high and 70 when none were recorded.
  4. Milestones – With 5 new 1000 point milestones (20k, 21k, 22k, 23k & 24k), 2017 was the most active such period on record. It took nearly twice as long for the DJIA to hit the first 1000 points (achieved on November 4, 1972) as it has for all subsequent milestones combined. Similarly, the speed with which the DJIA crossed these thresholds is notable: it took only 257 trading days to run through those 5 marks.  By comparison, it took 483 days for the DJIA to move from 18k to 19k.  Of course, there is a big caveat:  it’s important to note that as the DJIA gains in value each successive 1000 point milestone represents a smaller percentage gain.
  5. Quarterly Gains – the DJIA posted a return of 10.33% in Q4, the 9th quarterly advance in a row and the best 3 month return since Q1 2013 when the DJIA advanced 11.25%.
  6. Best & Worst Days:
    • Best Day in Point Terms – November 30 (up 331.67 points), when the Dow sped through the 24k level as investors cheered progress on the GOP tax reform bill.
    • Best Day in Percent Terms – March 1 (up 1.46%), when the DJIA closed above 21k as investors were heartened by (unexpectedly?) measured remarks in Trump’s 1st address to Congress.
    • Worst Day in Point & Percent Terms – May 17 (down 372.82 or 1.78%), when markets were hammered by concerns that Trump sought to obstruct Comey’s investigation of Michael Flynn.
  7. Large Moves – Or, since muted volatility was a major theme in 2017, this is more appropriately the lack of large moves. In 2017, there were only 10 trading sessions when the DJIA posted a move of 1% or greater.  This is the lowest total since 1964 when only 3 such moves were recorded for the entire year.  Since 1940, the annual average is 49 one percent moves or an experience that typically occurs in about 1 of every 5 trading sessions.  By comparison, in 2017 a 1% move occurred in only 1 of every 25 sessions.
  8. High vs. Low – with a spread of over 5,100 points, the difference between the year’s high and low levels saw the biggest gap since 2008.
  9. Stock Contributions – Boeing (BA) was the biggest contributor to the DJIA’s advance, adding over 955 points. Caterpillar (CAT) and UnitedHealth Group (UNH) were in the #2 and #3 spots respectively.  General Electric (GE), suffering from widely reported troubles, was the worst performer in 2017, sapping 97+ points.  IBM and Exxon Mobil were the second and third worst performers.   In all, twenty six stocks added to the DJIA while 5 detracted.  Astute observers will note that totals 31 stocks event though the DJIA only captures the performance of 30 “industrial” companies: the discrepancy arises from the newly combined DowDupont shares added in August (thus both DD and DWDP are counted in the totals).
  10. Sector Contributions – the Industrials sector was the largest contributor in 2017, followed by Consumer Discretionary and Technology. All industries, save Telecom (which itself lost only ~3 points), made positive contributions in 2017.

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