Stock indexes are used worldwide to track the performance of stock markets. These indexes take the price changes of individual stocks and translate them into a general index, which is used as a benchmark. The index’s movement is often related to macroeconomic factors, including income, unemployment, and investments, savings, and inflation. Highly professional teams monitor all these factors to determine the direction of the market.
There are two basic types of stock indexes: price-weighted and capitalization-weighted. Price-weighting, which weights companies by their current share prices, gives higher-valued companies more influence over the index. Capitalization-weighted indexes, on the other hand, weight securities according to their market value, and they adjust for stock splits.
Different types of stock indexes track different types of companies and industries. Some of the most common indices include all stocks on one exchange or multiple exchanges. Others focus on a single industry or industrial sector. The selection criteria for each type of index vary, so make sure to understand how to choose the best index for your needs.
The S&P 500 is a popular stock market index that contains 500 of the largest companies in the United States. These stocks tend to trade for low multiples of book value. They tend to be older, slower-growing companies. Some of the biggest companies in this index are JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway.