Dow Below 10,000: A Psychological Downer

What makes it the magic number?

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For the first time since 2004, the Dow Jones industrial average skidded below 10,000, a "psychological barrier," as some would say.

After the Dow first cracked 10,000 on March 30, 1999, Jeremy Siegel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, was asked why that barrier is significant:

It's arbitrary to the minute in terms of when you take the prices of the stocks. But all that aside, I don't deny the tremendous psychological impact of the Dow getting into the 10,000 area. It is the world's most famous average. It's the way people think about stocks and conceptualize the market. As a result, it has tremendous psychological import.

Today, Jonathan Berr of BloggingStocks waxed nostalgic about the days when "investors were as giddy as school girls when the leading stock market indicator crossed that once-unthinkable benchmark. Remember the Dow 10,000 hats? I bet the people who bought them along with other keepsakes of better times plan to unload them on eBay so they can fill up their tanks with gas."

Nine years after it hit the magic 10,000 mark, the Dow can't seem to shake it, MarketBeat points out:

The 30-stock average has had a funny history when it tries to add another digit onto the average. It first hit 100 in 1906, but fell below it during the Great Depression and last closed below the mark in 1943. A similar occurrence took place when the Dow first reached 1,000 in 1972—it took until 1983 before it left that figure behind. And 10,000 has proven to be just as daunting, as it is now nine-and-a-half years since the figure was first reached.