The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq Since Their 2000 Highs

The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow), and Nasdaq Composite are all stock market indexes used to measure the performance of various aspects of the U.S. stock market. The indexes generally rise and fall together, however the extent of gains or losses produced by each can differ depending on market conditions and the state of the economy.

The indexes differ in several key ways such as weighting methods, coverage, and criteria for including stocks. The S&P 500 assigns weightings based on market capitalization, includes roughly the 500 largest U.S. stocks spanning 11 sectors, and offers a more comprehensive view of the broad market's performance. The Nasdaq also employs market cap weighting but includes over 3,000 stocks with a heavy focus on the technology sector, making it a popular benchmark for technology and growth companies. In contrast, the Dow is a smaller index consisting of 30 well-established "blue-chip" stocks, with weightings based on stock prices, making it a more conservative and limited representation of the broader market.

In this article, we examine these three indices and how they have changed since their peaks from 2000. We've updated the data through the January 2024 close.

S&P 500, Dow 30, and Nasdaq Percent Change Since Peak in 2000

Here are two overlays — one with the nominal price, excluding dividends, and the other with the price adjusted for inflation based on the consumer price index for urban consumers (which is usually just referred to as the CPI). At the end of January, the Dow 30 finished up 1.2%, the S&P 500 finished up 1.6%, and the Nasdaq finished up 1.0% from the last day of December.

S&P 500, Dow 30, and Nasdaq Nominal Gains Since Peak in 2000

When adjusted for inflation, the real month-over-month changes for each index become 1.3% for the Dow 30, 1.7% for the S&P 500, and 1.1% for the Nasdaq.

S&P 500, Dow 30, and Nasdaq Real Gains Since Peak in 2000

The charts require little explanation. So far, the 21st century has not been especially kind to equity investors. Yes, markets do bounce back, but often in time frames that defy optimistic expectations.