Mapping the market's wild ride

The Dow keeps reaching new highs, but the other major indexes have yet to catch up. Here's a graphic look at a ragged rally.

By Katie Benner, Fortune reporter

(Fortune Magazine) -- Just think about all the things the Dow Jones industrial average has had to overcome to surpass its January 2000 high: war, ballooning federal debt, rising interest rates, soaring oil prices, a housing bust. Yet there it is, perched above 12,000 for the first time (although still not at a new high when adjusted for inflation). For now, the Dow stands alone. The S&P 500 index is still about 10%shy of its record, and the Nasdaq, hampered by its heavy load of tech stocks, isn't anywhere near its peak. For a closer look at how the markets have performed since 2000, open the gatefold at right.

MAPPING THE MARKET: FROM THE HIGHS OF 2000 TO TODAY

BACK ON TOP Here's how the 30 stocks currently in the Dow have fared since Jan. 14, 2000.

It was the dawn of a new century. On Jan. 14, 2000, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at a new high of 11,723. But the dot-com bubble soon burst, taking the rest of the market down with it. It would take nearly seven full years, but powered by old-economy stocks like Caterpillar (Charts), Altria (Charts), and Exxon Mobil (Charts), the Dow finally surpassed its high on Oct. 3, 2006, and closed above 12,000 for the first time on Oct. 19. Purists point out that to surpass the previous peak in inflation-adjusted terms, the Dow would have to climb well past 13,000.

Then and Now When the Dow set its previous record, inflation was higher than it is today. But by many other measures, the economic climate was better in 2000.

Inflation Rate Jan. 2000: 2.7%

Oct. 2006: 2.1%

Unemployment Rate

Jan. 2000: 4.0%

Oct. 2006: 4.4%

Real GDP Growth

Jan. 2000: 7.3%

Oct. 2006: 1.6%

Annualized quarterly change Light, sweet crude

Nymex price per barrel

Jan. 2000: $26

Oct. 2006: $61

National Debt

Jan. 2000: $5.7 trillion

Oct. 2006: $8.5 trillion

Bull History

Since World War II ten bull markets (defined by Dow Jones as an upward move of at least 20%), have come and gone, averaging 1,584 days and a gain of 140%. The first postwar bull remains the champ, at more than 12 years and a 355% advance. The current rally, No. 11, clocks in as middling in length, and its 66.1% gain is subpar - but who knows how far it will go from here?

Miles to go Fueled by high-octane tech stocks, Nasdaq had the gaudiest gains in the late-1990s rally and took the deepest dive in the crash, as many dot-com and telecom issues lost 90% of their value or more. Now the Internet is hot again and broadband cables are buzzing with life, but Nasdaq still sits at barely half its bubble high.

Still Behind Many computer and Internet companies that saw their shares soar to dizzying heights in the bubble have not come anywhere near their former peaks. Here's a sampling.

AMAZON (Charts) One of the original dot-coms, Amazon keeps expanding and finally makes money - but investors aren't dazzled the way they used to be. 2/29/00: $66.88 7/11/06: $38.09

CISCO (Charts) Once corporate America built out its Internet networks, Cisco s growth slowed sharply. Now it's trying to be a player in transmitting online video. 2/29/00: $66.09 7/11/06: $24.13

DELL (Charts) Selling directly to customers worked great - so long as archfoe HP was making mistakes. Dell's weakness with consumers has slowed it down. 2/29/00: $40.81 7/11/06: $24.33

ORACLE (Charts) Being an industry consolidator translates into strength but not fast growth. Oracle's enterprise software just doesn't supply the thrills of old. 2/29/00: $37.13 7/11/06: $18.47

YAHOO (Charts) Web ads are hot again. But Yahoo, once the star of online advertising, now must share the stage with relative newcomer Google.

2/29/00: $79.84

7/11/06: $26.34

CLOSING IN

Over long periods of time, the S&P 500 typically tracks the Dow closely. But while the broad index has climbed 78% from its low, it remains nearly 10% below its all-time closing high of 1,527, set on March 24, 2000.

Hot or Cold?

It's easy to see why the S&P 500 is still lagging. Despite the surge in energy and consumer-staples stocks, the index hasn't been able to overcome the drag of the struggling telecom and infotech groups. Here's how the sectors stack up since March 24, 2000.

Energy: 103.6%

Consumer staples: 58.4%

Materials: 50.6%

Financials: 41.3%

Utilities: 23.7%

Health care: 19.9%

Industrials: 14.2%

Consumer discretionary: 2.0%

S&P 500: -10.5%

Telecom Services: -53.3%

Information Technology: -64.6%

Sources: Bloomberg, Bolinger Capital Management, Dow Jones, Nasdaq, Ned Davis Research, Standard & Poors  Top of page