Motley Fool  Nov 5  Comment 
Market indexes didn't move much, even as third-quarter earnings reports generated a few huge individual stock swings.
Motley Fool  Nov 4  Comment 
Today brought investors more interest-rate hike hints from the Fed, and a few surprisingly strong third-quarter earnings reports.
Motley Fool  Nov 3  Comment 
The video game publisher set a new all time high while the communications giant disappointing Wall Street.
MarketWatch  Nov 3  Comment 
Blue chips lead way as U.S. stock indexes amass gains
Reuters  Nov 2  Comment 
MSCI will begin to add overseas-listed Chinese shares to its emerging market indexes this month, drawing billions of dollars into such stocks, which could eventually lead to mainland-listed companies finding their way into global equity portfolios.
MarketWatch  Oct 30  Comment 
U.S. stock indexes fall Friday but notch best month since October 2011
The Economic Times  Oct 30  Comment 
US stocks were little changed on Friday as investors paused on the last trading day of what could be the best month for the three major indexes in four years.
Reuters  Oct 30  Comment 
U.S. stocks were little changed on Friday as investors paused on the last trading day of what could be the best month for the three major indexes in four years.
MarketWatch  Oct 29  Comment 
Major U.S. stock indexes end slightly lower


An index, when used with respect to financial markets, is a statistical measure of change in a securities market. Indexes, or indices (both are correct in American English), are imaginary portfolios of securities (usually stocks) representing a particular market or a portion of it.

This is the chart for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Scroll down for a list of major world indices on Wikinvest.

Generally, an index has three main purposes:

  • An Index shows the performance of a basket of equities instead of just a single equity - IE an index is diversified.
  • An index can show the performance of a particular class of assets - for example, a biotechnology index would show the performance of a diverse group of biotech companies over time.
  • An index can also be used to provide a generic securities category for passive management and derivatives (passive investing).

Each index is calculated using its own methodology, and its value is expressed in terms of a change from an original base value. So the numerical value of an index is not as significant as the percent change in the index.

Investing in indexes is a way to invest in the performance of a broad market sector, or in the market as a whole. But to trade an index, an investor must buy or sell through a third party. Stock and bond market indexes are used to make mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that mirror the performance of the index. Regardless of security type, indexing can cover broad categories such as a Total Market Index like (VTI), index investing can also be more micro and track sectors such as Small Cap Brazilian Companies (BRF).

When investing in an Exchange Traded Funds that tracks an index, an investor buys or sells an entire group of stocks when trading that particular ETF - an example is the StreetTRACKS Dow Jones Global Titans Index Fund (DGT). Some indexes allow investors to put money into commodities - an example is the PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (DBC) - while others, like the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), are important economic indicators used to measure the rates under which services are sold in a particular industry (in the case of the BDI, dry bulk shipping). Still others are forward looking, measuring the anticipated volatility of the markets - an example is the Nasdaq Volatility Index (VXN).

Major World Index on Wikinvest

There are many products available to investors to give them exposure to international indices. Mutual Funds and ETFs are the most widely held instruments which investors use to track markets around the world. Some examples of Major World Indices would be MSCI Emerging Market Index (EEM), MSCI EFAE Index (EFA), or Vanguard Emerging Markets (VWO). These are just a few examples of common securities offered to investors seeking exposure to an international world market index.

It is important to consider the currency risks of investing in many international index funds as well as the potentially higher costs associated with the transactions needed to operate the fund (trading, taxes, etc).

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