SteadyOptions is an options trading forum where you can find solutions from top options traders. TRY IT FREE!

We’ve all been there… researching options strategies and unable to find the answers we’re looking for. SteadyOptions has your solution.

Why Dow Points Are Meaningless


A quick online search for “Dow rallies 500 points” yields a cascade of news stories with similar titles, as does a similar search for “Dow drops 500 points.” These types of headlines may make little sense to some investors, given that a “point” for the Dow and what it means to an individual’s portfolio may be unclear.

The potential for misunderstanding also exists among even experienced market participants, given that index levels have risen over time and potential emotional anchors, such as a 500-point move, do not have the same impact on performance as they used to. With this in mind, we examine what a point move in the Dow means and the impact it may have on an investment portfolio.
 

Impact of Index Construction

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was first calculated in 1896 and currently consists of 30 large cap US stocks. The Dow is a price-weighted index, which is different than more common market capitalization-weighted indices.[1]
 

An example may help put this difference in weighting methodology in perspective. Consider two companies that have a total market capitalization of $1,000. Company A has 1,000 shares outstanding that trade at $1 each, and Company B has 100 shares outstanding that trade at $10 each. In a market capitalization-weighted index, both companies would have the same weight since their total market caps are the same. However, in a price-weighted index, Company B would have a larger weight due to its higher stock price. This means that changes in Company B’s stock would be more impactful to a price-weighted index than they would be to a market cap-weighted index.


The relative advantages and disadvantages of these methodologies are interesting topics themselves, but the main purpose of discussing the differences in this context is to point out that design choices can have an impact on index performance. Investors should be aware of this impact when comparing their own portfolios’ performance to that of an index.
 

Headlines vs. Reality

Movements in the Dow are often communicated in units known as points, which signify the change in the index level. Investors should be cautious when interpreting headlines that reference point movements, as a move of, say, 500 points in either direction is less meaningful now than in the past largely because the overall index level is higher today than it was many years ago.
 

Exhibit 1 plots what a decline of this magnitude has meant in percentage terms over time. A 500-point drop in January 1985, when the Dow was near 1,300, equated to a nearly 39% loss. A 500-point drop in December 2003, when the Dow was near 10,000, meant a much smaller 5% decline in value. And a 500-point drop in early December 2018, when the Dow hovered near 25,000, resulted in a 2% loss.
 

Exhibit 1: Hypothetical 500-point Decline of the Dow Measured in Percentage Terms
getting2point1.png
Dow Jones and S&P 500 data © 2019 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global. The chart illustrates what a 500-point drop would have been in percentage terms for the Dow Jones Industrial Average on a daily basis. It assumes a 500-point loss took place each trading day from January 1, 1985, to February 1, 2019, and uses daily historical closing values of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to compute the percentage change. Percentage change does not indicate the actual change in the Dow during the period shown. Actual results may vary.


How does the Dow relate to your portfolio?

While the Dow and other indices are frequently interpreted as indicators of broader stock market performance, the stocks composing these indices may not be representative of an investor’s total portfolio.
 

For context, the MSCI All Country World Investable Market Index (MSCI ACWI IMI) covers just over 8,700 large, mid, and small cap stocks in 23 developed and 24 emerging markets countries with a combined market cap of more than $50 trillion. The S&P 500 includes 505 large cap US stocks with approximately $23.8 trillion in combined market cap.[2] The Dow is a collection of 30 large cap US stocks with a combined market cap of approximately $6.8 trillion.[3]


Even though the MSCI ACWI IMI, S&P 500, and Dow are all stock market indices, each one tracks different segments of the market, so their performance can differ significantly over time, as shown in Exhibit 2. Since 1995, the Dow has outperformed the S&P 500 and MSCI ACWI IMI by an average of 0.5% and 3.3%, respectively (based on calendar year returns). However, relative performance in individual years can be much different. For example, in 1997, the Dow underperformed the S&P 500 by 8.4% but outperformed the MSCI ACWI IMI by 13.9%.
 

Exhibit 2. Performance of MSCI ACWI IMI, S&P 500, and Dow by Calendar Year

getting2point2.png
Dow Jones and S&P 500 data © 2019 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global. All rights reserved. MSCI data © MSCI 2019, all rights reserved. MSCI ACWI IMI is the MSCI All Country World Investable Market Index (net dividends). Their performance does not reflect fees and expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

It is also important to note that some investors may be concerned about other asset classes besides stocks. Depending on investor needs, a diversified portfolio may include a mix of global stocks, bonds, commodities, and any number of other assets not represented in a stock index. A portfolio’s performance should always be evaluated within the context of an investor’s specific goals. Understanding how a personal portfolio compares to broadly published indices like the Dow can give investors context about how headlines apply to their own situation.
 

Conclusion

News headlines are often written to grab attention. A headline publicizing a 500-point move in the Dow may trigger an emotional response and, depending on the direction, sound either exciting or ominous enough to warrant reading the article. However, after digging further, we can see that the insights such headlines offer may be limited, especially if investors hold portfolios designed and managed daily to meet their individual goals, needs, and preferences in a broadly diversified and cost-effective manner.
 


[1]Market capitalization is the product of price and shares outstanding.

[2]500 companies are included in the S&P 500 Index. However, because some of these companies have multiple classes of stock that meet the requirements for inclusion, the total number of stocks tracked by the index is 505.

[3]Market cap data as of January 31, 2019.


This article is courtesy of Dimensional Fund Advisors.

 

What Is SteadyOptions?

Full Trading Plan

Complete Portfolio Approach

Diversified Options Strategies

Exclusive Community Forum

Steady And Consistent Gains

High Quality Education

Risk Management, Portfolio Size

Performance based on real fills

Try It Free

Non-directional Options Strategies

10-15 trade Ideas Per Month

Targets 5-7% Monthly Net Return

Visit our Education Center

Recent Articles

Articles

  • Probability vs. Certainty Trap

    We all would like all our trades to be winners, but we know this is not possible. We know some of the trades will be losers. Many traders think that if a trade has lost money, it was a bad trade. They try to identify what errors they made that lead to losses. Why? "Because I lost money! So surely I have made a mistake somewhere?”

    By Kim,

    • 2 comments
    • 6,294 views
  • How To Choose The Right Platform For Your Stock Trading

    The interest in stock trading has increased due to its higher returns and profit potentials. Like the many traders available, there are numerous approaches and platforms to set your trading environment. Online trading platforms provide adequate resources and tools for their clients' trading success.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,599 views
  • How To Approach Passive Investing

    Passive investing refers to an investment technique that seeks to increase returns by limiting purchasing and selling. One of the most popular passive investment strategies is index investing, this means that a group of investors buy a representative benchmark, and keep hold of this over a long period.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,559 views
  • How Anchor Survived the 2020 Crash

    We are often asked how the Anchor strategy performed during the market crash of 2020. The monthly performance can be seen on the performance page, but it shows the End of Month values and doesn't tell the whole picture. This article will shows a detailed analysis of the Anchor portfolio during the crash.

    By Kim,

    • 2 comments
    • 3,202 views
  • Lumpy Dividends and Options

    Dividend payments, like oatmeal, may be smooth or lumpy. Smooth dividends are predictable, usually once per quarter. It is easy for options traders to believe these dividends are guaranteed, because they usually continue uninterrupted quarter after quarter. This also makes it easy to predict total return over a longer time span.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 3,410 views
  • Got Crypto? Here's How to Use It

    Cryptocurrencies are fast becoming an accepted personal and corporate finance method - much to the chagrin of centralized banks and established financial institutions. The reasons are numerous, but in a nutshell, the decentralization of massive amounts of currency poses a threat to their systems.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 2,151 views
  • Option Payoff Probability

    Many options analyses focus on profit, loss and breakeven. These show what occurs on expiration day, assuming the option remains open to that point. But this is not realistic. Most options are closed or exercised before expiration, is calculation of how probable a payoff is going to be, how likely the loss, or the exact neutral outcome (breakeven), are all unrealistic.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,777 views
  • How to Open Your Own Trading Office

    Are you ready to break out on your own? Have you been trading for a company for years making tons of money for yourself and others? Are you ready to take home a bigger piece of the pie? If you answered “yes” to these questions then you have the skills necessary to take your passion for trading to the next level.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 2,277 views
  • How To Create Your Own Indexed Annuity

    Indexed annuities are a life insurance company product sold by insurance brokers for a commission that is based on the amount deposited into the contract. Contract performance is linked to popular indexes like S&P 500, and early withdrawal penalties typically apply for the first 7-10 years if withdrawals greater than 10% of the contract value are taken each year.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 2,858 views
  • Q&A with Mental Game Coach Jared Tendler

    QUESTION: Thank you for taking the time to participate in a Q & A session with Steady Option. Let’s start with an introduction and a little bit of background on who you are and how you got here.

    By Jared Tendler,

    • 0 comments
    • 2,626 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


There are no comments to display.



Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account. It's easy and free!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

Options Trading Blogs Expertido