What’s in a Number? A Look at Market Moves

March 01, 2019

Financial advisor reviewing Dow chart with man and woman clients

It can be scary when stocks decline. And even normal market volatility can be uncomfortable, especially with large day-to-day stock market moves. The market’s increase over time has raised the level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow), and as a result, 100-point (or even larger) shifts have become more common. That’s because 100 points aren’t what they used to be.

Let’s crunch the numbers

For our example, let’s use the Dow’s milestone of 25,000. At this level, a gain or loss of 100 points would be less than 1% – it’s actually just 0.4%.

Looking back, a day when the Dow moved 100 points was a big gain or loss in the 1970s and 1980s. But more recently, daily Dow moves frequently have been 100 points or more. Of course, daily fluctuations sometimes pile up, and as we’ve seen recently, there’s always the possibility of a market pullback.

Converting Dow points into percentages

Average Dow Price % Decline for 100-point Drop
1970s 861 -11.6%
1980s 1,504 -6.6%
1990s 5,298 -1.9%
2000s 10,472 -1.0%
Today* 25,000 -0.4%
*Assumes Dow at 25,000. Source: Bloomberg data, Edward Jones calculations.

If you translate percentages into points:

  • A 5% decline would be a drop of about 1,250 points.
  • A 10% decline would be a drop of about 2,500 points.

Instead of worrying when the Dow drops 100 points or so, remember that’s just normal volatility. If you’re concerned about bigger declines, review your portfolio with your financial advisor. If necessary, rebalance to the appropriate mix of stocks and bonds, and be prepared to consider adding stock investments at lower prices to take advantage of such market moves.

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