Eighteen years ago, when the Dow Jones industrial average was trading at half its current level, 100-point daily moves were twice as significant. That's just math.
What's surprising is that they happened much more often.
So far this year, the Dow has only closed higher or lower by more than 100 points on 13 days, including Wednesday— a bit more than a quarter of its sessions. If this pace keeps up, 2017 will be the year with the second least 100-point moves since 2006.
This even though 100 points represents less than 0.49 percent of the Dow's average closing level in 2017, so such moves are far less significant than they have ever been before.
A notable comparison can be drawn by looking back at 1999. That was the year when the Dow first broke above 10,000, a feat accomplished for the first time in intraday trading 18 years ago on Thursday. In that exuberant year, even though 100 points was 0.95 percent of the Dow's average closing level, the index managed 88 such moves, meaning that the Dow closed 100 points higher or lower more than 1 out of every 3 sessions.
The subtle irony is that when the Dow broke above 20,000, some pointed out that it no longer made sense for the financial press to make a big deal out of 100-point moves. While this may be true, such moves are actually more newsworthy insofar as they happen less.