Introduction to Major World Indices


Understanding the key world indices is crucial as an investor or market analyst since it allows you to do the most efficient market evaluations possible. 

These indexes are extremely useful since they assist market analysts and investors of all sizes in determining market performance and comparing various investment options.

It’s also worth noting that global market indices include equities, commodities, bonds, and other assets. However, the focus of this paper will be on stock market indices. So, without any further ado, let’s dive right into it: 

What are Stock Market Indices?

Stock market indices serve as a baseline for determining the overall strength or weakness of the stock market. Stock market indexes use a weighted average of selected stocks to assess a country’s stock market segment. The movement of global indexes is defined by the weighted movement of these sets of equities or portfolios of stocks.

Global market indices can be thought of as a hypothetical investment portfolio that reflects a part of the financial market or the global indices market. The price of the underlying stocks or assets in the index is used to calculate the index value.

Market indices can be weighed in a variety of ways, including market-capitalization weighting, float-weighting, and revenue-weighting. Essentially, markets are strong when global indices are rising, and markets are weak when global indices are falling.

The methods for creating global indices differ, however the majority of the world’s prominent global indices use market cap and free-float weighting. These worldwide market indexes serve as benchmarks for measuring market segment performance as well as a barometer of the economy’s health.

How Can Following Stock Market Indices Be Helpful?

Tracking the market indices can be as vital as following the market itself for a market player, whether an investor or an analyst. Here are a few of the most important reasons why following the Stock Market Indices is beneficial:

Market Sentiment Gauging

The initial objective of stock market indices, according to popular belief, was to gauge investor confidence and market sentiment. These indexes track market psychology in the form of investor or consumer behavior and views, which can have a significant impact on the market.

When these sentiment indices move in the same direction as the data it’s evaluating, it’s usually a good sign that the trend is on the right track. This is an extremely useful phrase for short-term traders or investors, and it is often used by them. The sentiment is deemed pessimistic if the stock market is heading down, and bullish if the market is trending up.

Return/Risk Proxies

Indices are crucial in the capital asset pricing model because they determine the expected return and risk for the market in which you are investing.

As an investor or trader, it is your obligation to understand the likely risk or return you may face along the process. As a result, you may calculate risk-adjusted excess returns for active managers and quantify systematic risk for individual securities based on their correlation with the index. The former is referred to as Beta, whereas the latter is referred to as Alpha.

What are the World’s Major Indices?

According to the Index Industry Association’s data from 2018, there are almost 3.3 million market indices around the world. As previously said, indices are quite important for tracking the stock market’s performance and changes. 

You can use a variety of indexes for this, but the major world indices will be discussed in this section of the article.

1.     USA 500

The US500 is a stock market index that tracks the performance of the top 500 businesses listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market and the New York Stock Exchange in the United States. It is a free-floating index that includes the top US companies by capitalization and book value, accounting for around 80% of the entire value of the country’s equity market.

It is widely regarded as the most accurate indicator of the health of the US stock market and a leading indicator of the overall health of the US economy.

2.     The Nasdaq – 100 Index (NDX)

The performance of 103 equity securities issued by the top 100 non-financial corporations listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange is represented by the US100 Index. 

A capitalization-weighted technique is used to calculate it. It comprises both local and foreign stocks of the major corporations in a wide range of industries, including information technology(IT), telecommunications, retail, biotechnology, health care, media, and so on.

It has a daily average volume of 20,000 shares, issues quarterly and annual reports that are up to date, and is liquid and not in bankruptcy.

3.     Dow Jones (US30)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) or USA30 is the United States’ second-oldest stock market index. This is a stock market index that tracks the performance of 30 of the most well-known publicly-traded companies in the United States.

Charles Dow, the editor of The Wall Street Journal and a co-founder of Dow Jones & Company, devised the index. S&P Dow Jones Indices, a subsidiary of S&P Global, is responsible for its upkeep.

This indicator has risen multiple times in recent years. Following the 1970–1980 weak market, the DJIA increased by more than 1,500 percent from 777 in 1982 to 11,722 in January 2000. 

Despite losses during the 2008 recession and a bear market during the coronavirus outbreak at the start of 2020, it has continued to rise since then. The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a high of 34,200.67 on April 16, 2021.

The prices of the constituent stocks, and hence the value of the index, are changed by the performance of the particular firms as well as macroeconomic factors, just like all stock prices.

4.     The Germany 40 (DAX)

The Deutscher Aktienindex is a stock market index that tracks the performance of the 40 largest and most liquid blue-chip German companies listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

It contains German firms with the highest market capitalization and book value, accounting for around 80% of the Frankfurt Exchange’s total market capitalization and book value. The computerized trading system Xetra provides the prices and rates necessary to calculate the index.

Closing Thoughts:

Although there are many more Global Market Indices used for stock trading, only a few of the more popular ones have been discussed. When investing or participating in the stock markets, it’s critical to understand different types of trading indexes and how they work.

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