The Dow is the most widely-cited stock market index in the world. It was created back in 1896 by your good friends Charles Dow and Edward Jones, of Wall Street Journal fame, who tallied up the prices of the largest American industrial giants then listed on the New York Stock Exchange. At first, 12 companies were listed and they were all heavy-industry (you know...smokestacks, pollution) like the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company.
There are still giant companies -- the blue chips -- listed on the Dow, but the composition has changed innumerable times over the years as corporate fortunes rise and fall. These days, there are 30 companies and in addition to heavy industry like Exxon, you also have banks (Bank of America), tech companies (Intel), retailers (Walmart), media (Disney) and so much more.
Here's the list as of 2012 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average:
- AMERICAN EXPRESS
- BANK OF AMERICA
- COCA COLA
- DU PONT
- EXXON MOBIL
- HOME DEPOT
- JP MORGAN
- UNITED TECHNOLOGIES
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