Indices

Unlike any other tradable asset class, indices give traders exposure to entire market sectors, rather than to individual companies or commodities. Indexes reflect the overall state of certain markets, as well as the economy as a whole, much more accurately than individual stocks.

Those who trade indexes need to consider macroeconomic data for their fundamental analysis. Geopolitical developments, the publication of sector-wide employment reports, as well as various economic reports fit this bill well.

DAX Index 

FTSE 100 Index 

Nikkei 225 Index 

Indices

What is an index?

An index represents a sort of basket or portfolio of stocks, which are considered to be representative of a certain market sector. The Dow Jones Industrial Average for instance, is made up of the stocks of the 30 largest US companies.

The evolution of an index reflects the average evolution of the stocks that comprise it. It does not really say anything about the evolution of individual stocks that make it up.

If the DJIA goes up 1% for instance, it means that the 30 stocks have gone up by an average of 1%.

Indexes are meant to offer a "bird's eye view" of certain market segments. This way, they simplify the overall picture, while taking into account all the essential details.

Most indexes represent a point based expression of the weighted average of the stocks that make them up. Each index is calculated in a slightly different way however.

How to Trade Indices?

You can trade indexes the same way you trade any other asset. Speculation is obviously the name of the game.

Buy an index if you have reasons to believe it will go up. Sell it if you think it will go down. Use a combination of technical and fundamental analysis (with extra focus on the fundamentals) to get your trading signals.

While the above is indeed the gist of the matter, there are a few peculiarities regarding indices trading.

Indices entail a peculiar type of volatility, which is rather intense, but limited in regards to volume. Because they are made up of several, independently evolving assets, indices tend to be quite volatile. They do not produce large swings however, usually staying within a 2 point/day range.

Violent economic events, such as market crashes, can elicit large volume swings.

As a trader of indices, you should keep an eye on the following factors:

  • Index Listings. Over time, the makeup of indices can change, to properly reflect the state of the target market sector. Factors which can induce such changes are market capitalization, acquisitions and mergers.
  • The correlation between country-specific indices and commodity prices.
  • The correlation between indices and currencies.
  • Market sector-related fundamentals.

Some popular indices:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average. Comprising the top 30 US companies, it represents around 25% of the US market.
  • S&P 500. Uses the market capitalization of the top 500 US companies listed at NYSE, NASDAQ as well as CBOE BZX.
  • FTSE 100. Includes the top UK companies, representing some 80% of the value of the London Stock Exchange.

Latest Indices News

S&P 500 rebound, bigger bear threat eased, for now – S&P 500 forecast
SP 500 chart
A rebound for global equity markets since last Friday and into late September.This has eased the bigger picture bearish pressures from the September selloffs.Modest setbacks… Continued
Stocks stay weak, with Europe seeing record COVID-19 cases
DJIA chart
Macroeconomic/ geopolitical developments Another week of hesitant equity markets, with early weakness, then indecision and finally an end of week rebound, but which failed to… Continued
S&P 500 poised for bigger bear signal (S&P 500 forecast)
6 hour S&P 500 Chart
A further plunge in global equity markets this week as we highlighted on Tuesday with our article on the DAX here.After Monday’s plunge and then… Continued
DAX bear threat – DAX forecast
Dax chart
A plunge in global equity markets to start this week after a weakened close last week has seen stock indices wipe out important support levels… Continued