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What Are Record Highs and Record Lows?

Indices and stocks’ record highs and lows measure the highest or lowest historical price reached during trading. Often, all-time records coincide with significant company, industry, or economic news or events. New records can tempt investors to change their strategy, potentially setting newer records as investor behavior sways the market. 

🤔 Understanding record highs and lows

Stocks and indices generally establish record lows early in their trading career as these investments continue climbing. As a result, many record lows are comparative. (For instance, if Stock A drops, you might say it’s at its lowest point in 25 years.) But it’s also possible for poorly performing stocks and indices to hit new all-time record lows.  

By contrast, because the market always performs (historically) and inflation is always present, indices and stocks constantly chase new record highs. You can also measure record highs comparatively in daily, weekly, yearly, intraday, or other timeframes. 

Examining record highs

Each of the major stock indices has experienced a new record high during the Covid-19 pandemic. (In fact, the S&P 500 experienced 68 record highs in 2021 alone.)

  • On 3 January 2022, the S&P 500 hit its all-time record close of 4,796.56 
  • On 4 January 2022, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record close of 36,799.65
  • On 19 November 2021, the Nasdaq Composite hit its all-time record close of 16,057.44

All-time record highs often occur when significant news hits the markets, such as a positive earnings report or favorable new policies. They can also occur during bull runs when the overall market sees continual growth. 

As stocks hit new record highs, they become attractive to some investors who buy in before the price rises further. But others see highs as an indicator that a stock will drop again. These investors may sell out of a “fear of heights” or take a short position. 

Examining record lows

When it comes to all-time lows, each index boasts several famous comparative lows. However, we’re only going to look at each index’s all-time record:

  • 8 August 1896: The DJIA closed at a record low of 28.48, 11 years after its first closing point of 62.76
  • 3 October 1974: The Nasdaq Composite hits its all-time low of 54.87, 3 years after it first opened at 100.00

Company lows may occur during newsworthy events, such as new industry regulations or a recession. On the company level, poor financial performance or scandals can drive prices down. And penny stocks are renowned for repeatedly hitting record lows due to fraud or company instability. 

New record lows for companies can trigger panic selling, which then drives prices even lower. When companies repeatedly reach new lows, investors may lose faith and abandon ship altogether. But if a company is generally reputable or successful, record lows present an opportunity to buy valuable securities at a discount. 

What this means for you

When stocks hit a new record high or low, it’s tempting to secure your gains or prevent more losses. But attempting to “time the market” and catch peaks and troughs usually results in more losses than gains. While it’s easy to identify highs and lows in hindsight, it’s nearly impossible in the moment. 

That’s why we often recommend a long-term buy-and-hold strategy that ignores the market’s highs and lows. If you’re investing for the future, it’s difficult to beat the long-term returns of a solid fund-based portfolio. And if you’re following such a strategy, taking the highs and lows in stride is simply par for the course. 

Of course, if you’re holding individual securities that can’t seem to stop setting new record lows, it might be time to take tax-smart action and harvest your losses.  

Disclosures is the trade name of Quantalytics Holdings, LLC., LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quantalytics Holdings, LLC ("Quantalytics"). Quantalytics offers automated financial advice tools through Quantalytics Investment Advisors, LLC ("QAI"), an SEC-registered investment advisor. QIA’s investment advisory services are ONLY available only to residents of the United States. Disclosures concerning QIA’s investment advisory services are available on its Form ADV filed with the SEC. The content in this newsletter is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a comprehensive description of's investment advisory services.

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