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Originally published Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 8:00 PM

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Coming to terms: the Dow, SIPC

The Dow is viewed by many as a representing the entire stock market, but it’s really just an index of 30 major American companies.

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Q: What’s “the Dow”?

A: It’s the Dow Jones industrial average, created in 1896 by Charles Dow, who also established The Wall Street Journal.

The Dow is viewed by many as a representing the entire stock market.

But it’s really just an index of 30 major American companies (and one of three major indexes often cited, along with the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq).

The 30 companies making up the Dow are: 3M, Alcoa, American Express, AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, DuPont, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Intel, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, McDonald’s, Merck, Microsoft (based in Redmond), Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Travelers, United Technologies, UnitedHealth Group, Verizon, Wal-Mart and Walt Disney.

The roster often goes many years without any changes.

In 2008, Altria, Honeywell and AIG gave way to Chevron, Bank of America and Kraft Foods.

In 2012, though, after Kraft spun off part of its business, it was replaced by UnitedHealth.

In 2009, Citigroup and General Motors were replaced by Cisco Systems and Travelers.

Some major companies, such as Apple and Google, have not yet made the list.

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