The Dow Jones Industrial Average pushed through 25,000 in the first week of 2018. True to form, the President weighed in on this record and indicated 30,000 is the next target, skipping over the 1,000 increment target milestones. His comment was replayed numerous times on television by the financial media Thursday with many commentators spinning his comment as hyperbole, but might a Dow target of 30,000 in 2018 be reasonable?
The below chart displays the calendar year returns for the Dow Jones Industrial Average going back to 1980. Also included on the chart are red dots representing the largest intra-year drawdown or decline. Looking at the mid-1990s returns, there was a five-year period, 1995-1999, where the Dow returns ranged from 16% to 33%, but with four of the year's return above 20%. So what would it take for the Dow Index to hit 30,000? A 20% return.
The point being, with the Dow Index trading at a large absolute number level, these 1,000 or 5,000 point moves are not out of the realm of even a reasonable possibility. Just as today a 100 or 200 point decline in the Dow is not a significant drop at all, i.e., less than a tenth of a percent. Important for the market and investors, though, is the fact the market has not experienced a double-digit pullback since February of 2016, nearly a two-year period. The market will experience one of these double-digit declines as it did 1997 and 1998, but looking at those prior years, the market can recover and generate strong returns for the entire calendar year period.