The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) isn’t a very useful index. The S&P 500 is a better way to track big US companies and better for most purposes is to use a total market index which includes another 3500 other US public companies. Okay, now that we resolved that issue, I ran across a fascinating table today, it covers how long it’s taken to go from one DJIA milestone to the next:

CLOSING
THRESHOLD
DATE CLOSING
THRESHOLD
REACHED
TRADING DAYS
BETWEEN
THRESHOLDS
CALENDAR DAYS
BETWEEN
THRESHOLDS
300 12/31/1928
400 12/29/1954 6,494 9,494
500 3/12/1956 303 439
600 2/20/1959 742 1,075
700 5/17/1961 564 817
800 2/28/1964 699 1,017
900 1/28/1965 231 335
1000 11/14/1972 1,940 2,847
2000 1/8/1987 3,573 5,168
3000 4/17/1991 1,080 1,560
4000 2/23/1995 975 1,408
5000 11/21/1995 189 271
6000 10/14/1996 226 328
7000 2/13/1997 85 122
8000 7/16/1997 105 153
9000 4/6/1998 182 264
10000 3/29/1999 246 357
11000 5/3/1999 24 35
12000 10/19/2006 1,879 2,726
13000 4/25/2007 127 188
14000 7/19/2007 59 85
15000 5/7/2013 1,460 2,119
16000 11/21/2013 139 198
17000 7/3/2014 153 224
18000 12/23/2014 120 173

To go from 2,000 to 3,000 took 14 years but to go from 11,000 to 12,000 took about a month. The milestones tend to drive news coverage but they aren’t very meaningful. Adding 1,000 to the Dow is a lot easier now than it was early on. Going from 17,000 to 18,000 requires a 5.8% increase, whereas as going from 2000 to 3000 required a 50% increase. We’d be better off to focus on percentage returns than milestones. Either way, the best approach is to keep investing routinely and avoid being out of the market so that when these bursts come, we gain the benefits.