Hope for your financial life and beyond

What is the Dow and Why is it Important?

The words Dow or Dow Jones may not be completely unfamiliar terms. You may know what they refer to, but you may not know exactly how it works. So, this article will help set the record straight and give you the basics about the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

What is the Dow Jones? For starters, it would be correct to say that it is the most quoted financial instrument in the world. That is why it sounds familiar. No doubt, you have heard financial market reports about this on the news every day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a stock index. It was created in 1896 by two financial reporters, Charles Dow and Edward Jones. They were looking for a way to give the public a snapshot of how stocks generally preformed in any given day. To do so, they took the 12 largest companies at the time, added up their prices and divided by 12. That gave the average market price of that basket of companies.

Today, the Dow consists of 30 companies. The Dow Jones today represents the most significant areas of the U.S. economy, namely, financials, technology, utilities, industrials, and transportation. It includes companies like Apple, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, Microsoft, Nike, Proctor and Gamble and Walmart.

Because the Dow consists of only 30 companies, it may lead you into thinking that it does not carry much value. That is not the case. As you noticed, these companies are the heavyweights – the most influential companies in the U.S. As the Dow average goes, so usually goes the rest of the market.

Are there Limitations to the Dow Jones?

Just like most market indexes, Dow Jones has several limitations.

The first issue is that it does contain only 30 stocks. Today there are over 3,000 publicly traded companies which you could invest in. So the Dow may not give an accurate portrayal of what is going on in the rest of the stock market.

Secondly, the Dow’s calculation does tend to favor the more expensive stocks. The index is weighted based on price. So the more expensive a stock is, the more an up or down movement in that stock influences the overall index. The less expensive stocks will not have as much influence on the average.

What are the Benefits of the Dow?

1. The Dow serves as a historical marker

In order to predict or forecast the future of the markets, historical trends need to be observed. Analysts study the past stock market trends to help them reach conclusions about what the future may hold for stocks. This is where Dow Jones comes in.

By virtue of its long history, it offers a valuable information for the comparison of today’s markets and those throughout history.

2. The Dow helps investors make decisions

In the early days of stock trading, there was little information about stocks that was available to the general public. You invested in stocks with the phrase caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) in the back of your mind. You were at great risk due to lack of company transparency and information.

This is not so today. There are new rules set forth by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that guard investors from being defrauded by companies. Additionally, news about the Dow and the rest of the markets is widely available through media outlets. It is not difficult for an investor to find the information they need. Knowing the price movement of stocks (for which the Dow is the standard), will help investors know when to invest.

Related Content: The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Investing Money the Right Way

3. The Dow provides a broad view of the economy

As aforementioned, Dow Jones is an umbrella of U.S. most capitalized and influential companies. Because the 30 Dow stocks are spread over different industries, they help create a comprehensive view of the U.S. economy. As those companies perform well, they will contribute positively to economic growth within the U.S. And as the economy goes, so goes the stock market.

If the economy is doing well, the stocks in the Dow will rise. If the economy is doing poorly, the Dow will at best be stagnant but most likely decline.

The Dow Jones continues to be one of the most resilient indices in the world. It has stood the test of time and continues to be the standard for financial markets around the world.

Make a Comment: Do you monitor the Dow on a daily basis? On what do you base your investing decisions?   

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Investing Money the Right Way

Success in our personal financial life is something we all desire. What that financial success looks like is different for each situation. However, there is one undeniable truth that applies to all of us when thinking about how to achieve our financial dreams and goals – investing money will help you get there.

investing moneyThere are several challenges though when it comes to investing money. For one, people scare themselves out of investing money for fear of losing it. They see the ups and downs of the stock market and don’t want to be involved with that volatility.

Others may not know how to invest or where to start. I remember learning about investing money in my early twenties and feeling extremely overwhelmed.

Still others may feel they lack the time to really make investing work for them. They either started to late in life to make a difference or just don’t have time in their daily schedule to learn about it.

And finally, perhaps the biggest challenge of all – some just don’t have the money to invest.

If you fall into any of those categories or are a beginner just looking to learn about investing money, this article is for you. From my own experience, I had many questions of my own when I first started. So I’ll be answering some of the most basic ones I had like:

[Read more…]

The Stock Market’s Dirty Little Secret

Enjoy this post today about investing by blogger and Chartered Financial Analyst Joseph Hogue.

I have built my career around investing and analysis of investments. I’ve done a good job and am proud of the advice I’ve offered clients but there is a dirty little secret that most analysts will not talk about.

The secret…many investors may not even need us.

Analysts are able to provide valuable information on stocks that helps keep the market so efficient and running smoothly. While it is difficult for anyone to “beat” the market consistently year-over-year, research shows that some analysts have been able to earn higher returns after adjusting for risk.

But the problem is that many investors just don’t need the few extra percentage points in returns that stock market analysis can provide.

Why would anyone pass up extra investment returns?

[Read more…]

The Difference Between a Dumb and Smart Money Investor

Well, we’ve reached that point again in the stock market where indices are at high levels again. The NASDAQ composite index touched 5,000 the other day, its highest level since the year 2000. It’s just a stone’s throw away from its all time high, making it the last of the three major indices to reach an all time high at some point during the current bull market.

So, right on cue, out come the headlines warning investors of an impending major pullback in the market. One in particular caught my eye the other day. It read:

Why the Smart Money is Bailing Out of the Bull Market

smart moneyAs an investor, how does that headline make you feel? Does it encourage you in any way? Are you feeling good about your investment strategy and how its playing out in the market right now? Getting the urge to go sell a few stocks?

I guess the answer to that question depends on whether or not you consider yourself a smart money investor.

What is a Smart Money Investor?

[Read more…]

Do You Want to Beat the Market for 60 Cents Per Hour?

The following is a guest post from Graham Clark at Moneystepper.com

Pennies falling out of a tipped over jarWhy do we invest? Presumably, we all invest money to obtain the best returns we can to improve our financial future. Effectively, this means that we are investing to earn money.

We invest in the stock market because we think it “pays well”. Investing in the stock market (assuming we can earn the market returns of the S&P 500 since 1970) can earn us 15.79%. Alternatively, holding money in cash returns approximately 5%.

Investing in the stock market is therefore the equivalent of working at a legal firm instead of McDonalds – the wages are better.

Hourly wage of investing

Let’s say you have $10,000 invested in the Vanguard S&P 500 (with an annual TER of 0.1%). Therefore, your average annual return, after costs, is equal to $1,569. How much work did this take? To set up your Vanguard account and buy the fund, and then to completely forget about it for the year, probably takes about one hour.

So, you are earning an hourly basic wage of $1,569 per hour. Not bad. Well done you!

Now, I’m going to give you the opportunity to earn another 60 cents per hour. Would you like to do that?

You probably wouldn’t. Moreover, you would probably report me to the authorities for exploiting my employees!! But, millions of people are doing this when they are trying to beat the market.

Can you beat the market?

[Read more…]

How Are Various Investing Markets Related to Each Other?

The following is a guest post by Troy Bombardia.

ID-100177922

Commodities: An oil refinery at dusk

In the world of investing we have something that is known as correlation. The basic definition of correlation is simple: how do changes in variable X affect changes in variable Y (oh no, more math!)?

Correlation and relations exist in the financial markets. Changes in the price of certain markets (i.e. stocks) will have impacts on prices in other markets (i.e. bonds, currencies, commodities). In this post, I’m going to examine how various markets are related to each other (their correlation).

Why is it important to understand the relationships between various markets? Because if you know how one market is reacting and what relationship other markets have to this market, you can predict what the future price of other markets will be (which equals more profits!).

[Read more…]

Global Shares Plunge! OMG…The World’s Coming to An End!

ID-100178554It’s another typical early morning. With a busy day ahead, I’m getting a bit of writing done before the kids drag themselves out of bed and downstairs for breakfast. I’m clicking around the Internet and wiping the sleep from my eyes when I’m greeted with this headline from Yahoo Finance:

“Global Shares Plunge as U.S. Slowdown Adds to Emerging Markets Woes”

I quickly pulled up a stock chart and noticed the financial markets have been in a free fall since the start of January. As of this writing (the morning of 2/4/14), the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen over 1,200 points (about 7%) since Jan. 1st. Many are calling for another 3-5% drop from here. Yikes!

Well, faced with that news what could I do? I grabbed my shotgun, some bottled water and my case of Ritz Crackers ‘n Cheese and headed for the bunker I’ve built in the basement. It’s fully stocked for Armageddon. The wife and kids will have to fend for themselves.

Clearly the world is coming to an end.

[Read more…]