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Market Index

A portfolio of securities that represent a section of the stock market

What is Market Index?

Market index refers to a portfolio of securities that represent a particular section of the stock market. The securities that are part of a particular index often come with certain characteristics.

 

Market Index

 

Summary

  • Market index refers to a portfolio of securities that represent a particular section of the stock market.
  • It is a hypothetical portfolio that derives its value from the values of its underlying securities.
  • In the US, the most popular indices include the S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite, and Dow Jones.

 

What is Index Methodology?

Index methodology is a hypothetical portfolio that derives its value from the values of its underlying securities. Indices may use different methods to determine this value. It means that the individual value of each security on the overall worth of the index is adjusted by assigning weights to individual securities. The weights may be based on market capitalization, revenue, floating-rate prices, or real market prices.

Every index uses a different methodology to determine its value, and this depends on the index provider. For example, Bloomberg Barclays is a provider of indices in the US bond market. In the US stock market, the most popular indices include the S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite, and Dow Jones.

The three indices mentioned above include the values of the stocks of the largest companies in the US. Indices that are weighted according to price are usually more likely to make a significant impact, due to changes in holding the highest market prices.

On the other hand, an index weighted on market capitalization will be affected by changes in the largest stock. The degree of the impact is subject to different characteristics considered while assigning weights.

 

What Functions do Market Indices Perform?

Market indices enable investors to discern overall price movements in the stock market. It proves to be functional in many ways.

 

1. Benchmarks

Since investors cannot invest in an index directly, they must use price movements as broad benchmarks of price movements of individual securities. Managers of investment funds use indices as benchmarks while performing performance comparisons and making investment-related decisions. Similarly, mutual funds may use an index as a benchmark.

For managers of institutional funds, the benchmarks function as a proxy for the individual performance of a fund. They are also used to determine the commission paid to fund managers.

 

2. Diversification

Investors who hold a diversified portfolio generally prefer index investing over holding stock individually. They may also choose to diversify their exposure to multiple indices. It is because index investing enables them to optimize their returns while being exposed to a minimal degree of risk.

For example, in order to build a balanced portfolio of US stocks and bonds, an investor may invest 50% of their funds in a US aggregate bond index ETF and the rest of their funds in an S&P 500 ETF.

 

3. Segment-based Investment

Using market indices is also a common method of investing in emerging sectors with high growth potential. The sectors can also be divided on a geographical basis. For example, the FTSE 100 tracks emerging markets and stocks listed in the UK.

Some indices create a narrow and targeted market focus owing to certain specified characteristics. In the case of fixed income security, an index can define maturity.

 

Real-World Examples of Market Index

Examples of the leading indices worldwide include:

  1. S&P 500 – The top 500 stocks in the USA
  2. Dow Jones Industrial Average – The top 30 stocks in the US
  3. Nasdaq Composite – All securities listed on the NASDAQ Exchange
  4. S&P 100 – The top 100 stocks in the USA
  5. Russell 1000 – The 100 highest-ranking stocks in the USA
  6. S&P 400 – The top 400 stocks in the USA
  7. Russell Mid-Cap – The smallest 800 companies part of the Russell 1000
  8. FTSE 250 – The 101st to 350th largest stocks listed in the FTSE
  9. NIFTY 50 – The top 50 stocks of the NSE of India

 

Additional Resources

CFI is the official provider of the global Certified Banking & Credit Analyst (CBCA)™ certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To keep advancing your career, the additional resources below will be useful:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)
  • Standard & Poor’s
  • FTSE Indices
  • Capitalization-Weighted Index

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