The US 500 index, also known as the S&P 500 index, is a widely followed stock market index representing the performance of 500 large-cap companies listed on US stock exchanges. It is one of the most commonly used benchmarks for the overall health and performance of the US stock market.
The S&P 500 index is maintained by S&P Dow Jones Indices, a division of S&P Global. The index is constructed using a market capitalization-weighted methodology, which means that the weight of each company in the index is based on its total market value. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying a company's stock price by its total number of outstanding shares. This approach gives more importance to larger companies, as their market value has a greater impact on the index's movements.
The process of forming the S&P 500 index involves several steps:
- Eligibility Criteria. The S&P 500 includes companies that meet specific eligibility criteria. These criteria typically involve being based in the United States, having a market capitalization above a certain threshold, having sufficient liquidity, and meeting certain financial viability requirements.
- Selection Process. The index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices reviews the eligible companies and selects a representative sample of 500 companies that best reflect the overall US stock market. The selection aims to cover various sectors and industries in proportion to their economic importance.
- Weighting Methodology. After the selection, each company's weight in the index is determined based on its market capitalization. The larger a company's market cap, the higher its weight in the index. This ensures that the performance of larger companies has a greater influence on the index.
- Regular Rebalancing. The S&P 500 index is rebalanced periodically to maintain its representativeness and reflect changes in the market. Rebalancing typically occurs every quarter, although other adjustments may be made as needed. During rebalancing, companies may be added or removed from the index based on changes in their market value or eligibility.
The US 500 index provides investors and market participants with a broad and diversified view of the US stock market's performance. It serves as a benchmark for measuring the returns of investment portfolios, evaluating the performance of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and analyzing the overall health of the US economy.
The price of the US 500 Index (S&P 500) depends on various economic and company factors that affect the market and the stocks of the companies in the index.
Here are some of the major factors that affect the price of the US 500:
- Macroeconomic Indicators. Economic indicators such as GDP growth, inflation, unemployment, and interest rates can significantly impact the price of the index. Positive data on economic growth and low unemployment can drive the price of the US 500 higher, while negative data can cause the price to decline. Decisions and comments by the US Central Bank (Fed) regarding interest rates and monetary policy may affect the price of the US 500. A decrease in interest rates usually boosts stock prices, while an increase can cause prices to fall.
- Corporate Earnings. The companies' financial results in the index are an important factor affecting the price of the US 500. Positive reports of corporate earnings and growth can push the index up, while negative reports can cause the price to fall.
- Geopolitical Events. Global political and economic events such as trade disputes, conflicts, elections, and legislative changes can affect the price of the US 500. Uncertainty and instability in the geopolitical sphere can cause fluctuations in the market and affect the price of the index.
- International Factors. World economic events, such as global financial crises, exchange rate changes, and trade agreements, can affect the price of the US 500. Developments in global markets can create a reaction in the US market and affect the price of the index.
- Technical Analysis and Trends. Technical analysis based on the study of charts and indicators such as moving averages and trading volumes can also influence the price of the US 500. Trends and support/resistance levels can be important factors traders and investors consider when making decisions.
As of September 21st, 2023, the following are the 20 largest S&P 500 index constituents by weight:
- Apple (AAPL): 7.05%
- Microsoft (MSFT): 6.54%
- Amazon (AMZN): 3.24%
- NVIDIA (NVDA): 2.79%
- Alphabet Class A (GOOGL): 2.13%
- Tesla (TSLA): 1.95%
- Alphabet Class C (GOOG): 1.83%
- Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B): 1.83%
- Meta (META), formerly Facebook, Class A: 1.81%
- UnitedHealth Group (UNH): 1.28%
- Exxon Mobil (XOM): 1.27%
- Eli Lilly (LLY): 1.21%
- JPMorgan Chase (JPM): 1.18%
- Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): 1.07%
- Visa Class A (V): 1.05%
- Procter & Gamble (PG): 0.99%
- Mastercard Class A (MA): 0.93%
- Broadcom (AVGO): 0.92%
- Home Depot (HD): 0.85%
- Chevron Corporation (CVX): 0.81%.
It is important to note that the price of the US 500 is the result of a complex combination of all of these factors, and it can change in response to changes in the economic and corporate environment.