Financial Markets Rocked Again In '02

December 31, 2002 ( - Equity markets were again rocked in 2002 as the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index saw their first three-year string of declines since 1939-1941, according to a Reuters report.

The S&P 500 was particularly hard hit in 2002, as all sectors in the index ended the year, the first time that has occurred since at least 1981, when S&P began tracking such data.   In 2002, the S&P 500 index fell almost 24%, declining almost 43% from its all-time high of 1,527.46 on March 24, 2000.

As of the market close on December 30, the S&P 500 has recorded looses of about $2.42 trillion in value this year and has cast off about $4.28 trillion since the three-year bear market began in 2000.

The Dow showed similar dubious losses, ending December down 7%, its worst December performance since 1931, according to market tracking company

For the year, the Dow slumped almost 17%, its sharpest decline in 25 years. The Dow is now off about 29% from a record peak of 11,722.98 set on January 14, 2000.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index continued to be pummeled in 2002, down more than 31% this year now off more than 73% since its high of 5,048.62 set March 10, 2000.

All three of the major market gauges reached multiyear lows on October 9, when the Nasdaq Composite Index slid to a six-year low, while the Dow and S&P 500 hit five-year lows.

However, a silver lining in the otherwise dark investing cloud can be found in the markets performance since October 9. The Dow has rebounded about 14% since then, while the S&P 500 has risen approximately 11% and the Nasdaq is up almost 17%.

The Wilshire 5000 total market index also saw a rough 2002, falling approximately 22% for the year, losing $2.9 trillion in market value.

The previous three years of declines for the Wilshire 5000 will mark the first time the index, which debuted in December 1970, has fallen for three straight years. The last time the index posted consecutive yearly declines was in 1973 and 1974.

Since its all-time high of 14,751.64 on March 24, 2000, the Wilshire 5000 has tumbled 44% as of Friday’s close, losing $7.4 trillion in market value over the period.

Individual Performance

However, there were some individual performances of note in 2002.   The top percentage gainer in the S&P 500 in 2002 as of December 30 were:

  • Providian Financial up 83%
  • Boston Scientific Corp up 76%
  • Newmont Mining up 53%
  • Apollo Group up 49%
  • Ball Corp up 44%

Conversely, as of December 30, these companies had seen the largest percentage declines on the S&P 500 in 2002:

  • Dynegy Corp down 96%
  • Williams Companies Inc down 91%
  • Mirant Corp down 89%
  • El Paso Corp down 84%
  • NVIDIA Corp down 83%