Last Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed at 14,865.06, down ever so slightly from 14,865.14, a move of 0.00%, or more precisely, -0.000538%. This non-move was especially surprising given the volatility during the day–the DJIA reached a low of 14,785.36, nearly 80 points or 0.54% below where it both started and finished. Such a market move, or non-move as the case may be, appears to be extremely rare.
Conclusively identifying the last time such a non-move occurred—if it ever has–is a bit laborious. Economic data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis lists DJIA closing prices back to May 26, 1896. The record’s shortcoming is that it also includes days when markets were not open (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, July 4th, and so on). Of course, the DJIA registers no price move on those days. The record keeping practice has changed more recently, with “N/A” or “0” recorded when the market is closed.
A quick and dirty search for DJIA moves that are within +/-0.0006%, but excludes all instances where the DJIA price change is exactly 0, turns up only one other date over the DJIA’s full history. This date, May 29, 2000, shows a move of only 0.000194%, even smaller than last Friday’s move. But May 29, 2000 was a national holiday, Memorial Day. The price change for that date, as one would expect for a national holiday, does not show up in records kept by other data-reporting services such as Google Finance and Yahoo Finance. This data point is highly questionable, certainly not a fair comparison for a full trading day.
It is, of course, possible for the DJIA to move exactly 0%. However, putting aside holidays and other dates of market closure (e.g. September 11 through 14, 2001), I have concluded that a move of exactly 0% has not happened since at least January 1, 2000. A more comprehensive review could determine conclusively whether such a non-move has ever happened. At a minimum, last Friday’s narrow change appears to be rare and—perhaps—without precedent.