The history of the leading European index

Facts from more than 30 years of DAX

The DAX is one of the world's most important indices. With the 30 largest companies by stock market turnover and market capitalization, it shows the performance of German shares - and has done so for decades. In September, the leading index will be expanded to 40 stocks.

Since 1988, the DAX has served as a mirror image for the development of the 30 largest listed companies in Germany and has firmly established itself as the leading index for the German economy. The index is also one of the most popular underlyings for financial products worldwide. There are 17 Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) on the index, which manage total assets of more than 17 billion euros. DAX futures and options are among the most popular derivatives; in 2017 the trading volume reached 21.5 million contracts, corresponding to a trading volume of 6.7 billion euros. The index is also the underlying for numerous structured products.

The DAX is a performance index that takes dividend payments into account and thus reflects the actual performance of an investment. The 30 DAX stocks account for around 80 percent of the total market capitalization of all listed companies in Germany.

The DAX reached its all-time high of 15,802.70 points on June 14, 2021, and its highest closing level was 15,729.52 points the following day. The lowest closing level was recorded on August 29, 1988: 1,152.38 points. 

Facts about the DAX

  • The DAX's first publication dates from 1 July 1988 and reached an index level of 1,163.52 points.
  • Frank Mella, then editor of the Börsen-Zeitung, is regarded as the inventor of the DAX. One day his publisher asked him to come up with a stock market index for Germany as a financial centre. The publisher was so enthusiastic about the exposé that he showed it to some banking experts: the DAX was born.
  • The DAX measures the performance of the 30 largest and most liquid companies on the German stock market and represents around 80 percent of the market capitalization of listed stock corporations in Germany. The following companies joined the DAX 30 years ago: Allianz, BASF, Bayer, Bayerische Hypotheken- und Wechselbank, Bayerische Vereinsbank, BMW, Commerzbank, Continental, Daimler-Benz, Degussa, Deutsche Babcock, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Lufthansa, Dresdner Bank, Feldmühle Nobel, Henkel, Hoechst, Karstadt, Kaufhof, Linde, MAN, Mannesmann, Nixdorf, RWE, Schering, Siemens, Thyssen, Veba, Viag, Volkswagen.
  • The DAX is published both as a performance and a price index. In the performance index, the dividends of the companies included in the DAX are reinvested mathematically; in the price index, the dividends are not taken into account.
  • In 1995, the privatisation of the Deutsche Bundespost authority gave rise to three companies: Deutsche Post AG, Deutsche Telekom AG and Postbank AG. Two of them are still listed in the DAX today.
  • The MDAX is introduced in 1996. It comprises 50 stocks from classic sectors which follow the DAX stocks in the ranking according to market capitalization and stock exchange turnover.
  • Deutsche Telekom's largest IPO in the history of the DAX was in November 1996. 713 million shares flushed the equivalent of €13 billion into the coffers of the former state-owned group. Demand exceeded supply by a factor of five.
  • The largest merger in the DAX was that of Daimler-Benz and the US carmaker Chrysler. It is sealed on 7 May 1998. The merger "among equals" on the basis of a market capitalization of 166 billion D-Mark is at this time the largest merger of all times in the automotive industry. Daimler shareholders hold about 57 percent of the new company, Chrysler shareholders the remaining 43 percent.
  • From June 1999, the DAX will be calculated exclusively from Xetra® prices because it is clear that fully electronic trading will be the trend of the future. The SDAX® will also be introduced this year.
  • Euro notes will be introduced in 2000. The Deutsche Mark is the sole means of payment for the last time.
  • The DAX suffers its biggest annual loss in 2002, when it collapsed by 44 percent.
  • The TecDAX® is introduced in 2003. It contains the stocks of the 30 technology companies that follow the DAX in terms of stock exchange turnover and market capitalization.
  • The year 2003 sees the decline of the Neuer Markt. After the bursting of the speculation bubble in the technology sector (dotcom bubble), the DAX fell from a high of 8,136.16 in March 2000 to a closing price of 2,202.96 points by 12 March 2003. From spring 2003, however, the DAX will be on its way up again. New highs were reached in July 2007: 8,151.57 points on 13 July 2007.
  • On October 13, 2008, the DAX experienced the largest daily gain in its history with 11.40 percent.
  • In October 2008, Volkswagen was the most valuable company in the world for a few hours when the price of the paper shot up to over €1,000 at times. The trigger was a so-called short squeeze - a market situation in which a price is increasingly driven upwards by covering purchases, also known as "shorties" - in the middle of the takeover battle between Porsche and Volkswagen.
  • A newcomer, who was still a young company without a stock exchange listing when it started out on the DAX, has had a steep career since then: SAP was promoted to the DAX in 1995 and has since then seen an impressive price development to become the most valuable company.
  • Since the DAX was launched on July 1, 1988, 15 companies have been continuously listed: Allianz, BASF, Bayer, BMW, Commerzbank, Daimler (formerly Daimler-Benz), Deutsche Bank, E.ON (formerly Veba and Viag), Henkel, Linde, Lufthansa, RWE, Siemens, ThyssenKrupp (formerly Thyssen) and Volkswagen.
  • In May 2018, the total market capitalization of the DAX was 1,181,238.25 billion euros.
  • According to an EY study, on average 55 percent of the shares of DAX-listed companies are held by foreign investors. Shareholders from Germany held on average only a good third (37 percent) of the DAX shares in the 2012 financial year. The largest foreign DAX shareholder is the US asset manager BlackRock. Its funds are invested in all 30 DAX groups.
  • Today, the DAX is one of the most important stock indices in the world: it serves as the underlying for more than 150,000 financial products; futures contracts on the DAX are consistently among the top five of the most popular index futures worldwide.
  • Exchange-traded index funds (ETFs) enable investors to participate in the performance of the DAX as a whole. In the first quarter of 2018, assets under management in ETFs on DAX indices amounted to € 29.2 billion.
  • Since its foundation 30 years ago, the DAX price has increased more than tenfold. Those who climbed to their highest level in 1988 have since achieved an average annual return of 7.5 percent. On the basis of this return, an investment of €1,000 would today have a value of €8,754.96.

July 2021, © Deutsche Börse AG