The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 11,573.49 on the last trading day before Christmas. That's up 10.6 percent from a year ago. And 37.5% from two years ago.

When 2008 closed, markets were finishing strong, but just getting over the near-death experience of the disappearance of Bear Stearns, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the massive propping up of American International Group, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.

But consider this: On Dec. 23, 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 8,419.49.

When it starts out trading this week, it stands at 11,573.49.

Trading volume is way down, at 2.5 billion shares traded Dec. 23, 2010, down from 4.1 billion shares on Dec. 23, 2008.

But that could reflect calmer markets.

The numbers from each of the last three December 23 trading sessions:

Dow Jones Industrial Average

Closing price, shares traded

December 23

2010: 11,573.49, 2.5 billion

2009: 10,466.44, 3.2 billion

2008: 8,419.49, 4.1 billion 

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