Category Archives: S&P 500 & DJIA

S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average

The two best known and most widely followed stock indices in the world are the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  While both follow large cap US stocks and both have long histories, they are quite different in some important ways. The Dow is the oldest regularly calculated stock index dating back to Read more […]

The Dog Days of Summer

Markets and investors both seem to be thinking about August vacations and little else these days. As we enter the second full week of August – or the third week before Labor Day for the pessimists and workaholics – things seem to be going quiet.  The Dell buyout, just about the only contested M&A action, Read more […]

The Fox and the Hedgehog

The ancient Greeks tell the story of the fox and the hedgehog.  The fox, it is said, knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Anyone who reads the Wall Street Journal or listens to CNBC will recognize the vulpine nature of much of the financial world.  One key to investment success is Read more […]

Inside the S&P 500: What Made it Rise… or Fall?

The first question asked as the market closes is why did it go up? Or, if the results were less appealing, why did it fall?  Either way the usual answer of more buyers than sellers is no answer at all.  The real question is what sectors pushed the market higher or which stocks sent it Read more […]

Index Rehab: Is Backwardation Back In-Style?

My colleague, David Blitzer, is discussing index construction in his blog series “Inside the S&P 500”, and so far has reviewed selecting stocks and the float adjustment. While the index construction principles of transparency, liquidity, and systematic rules-based methodologies are widely similar between equities, commodities and other asset classes, there are details that distinguish the asset Read more […]

Sell in May and go away. You’re sure?

We’re all familiar with that old adage.  The theory says that trading slows during the summer months, markets can be a bit more turbulent and you’re better off closing out your positions, getting to the beach and enjoying your Pimm’s Cup in relative peace. But as my colleague Craig Lazzara pointed in his recent post, Read more […]

That Was Easy

If every month were like July, equity investors would have an easy life.  The most striking thing about July’s U.S. equity market performance was how consistently good it turned out to be.  The S&P 500 was up +5.09%, with the Mid Cap 400 ahead of that pace (+6.20%) and the Small Cap 600 further ahead Read more […]

Despite strong double-digit gains in the equity markets last year, S&P 500 issues posted record pension and OPEB underfunding in 2012

Despite strong double-digit gains in the equity markets last year, S&P 500 issues posted record pension and OPEB underfunding in 2012. The double-digit equity gains of 2012 were no match for the artificially low interest rates which vaulted pension liabilities into record underfunding territory. Companies have only 77 cents for each dollar they owe in Read more […]

Inside the S&P 500: Float adjustment

Most stock indices where the weight of each stock depends on its market value are “float adjusted” meaning that the index only counts those shares that are available to investors and excludes closely held shares or shares held by governments or other companies. The S&P 500 moved to float adjustment in in 2004-2005.  Initially many Read more […]

When Diversification Fails

Diversification means different things in different contexts.  We can speak, for example, of diversification within an equity portfolio — i.e., of holding a number of stocks with potentially-offsetting risks, as opposed to concentrating on only one issue or on a handful of similar stocks.  Or we can think of diversification across asset classes — e.g., Read more […]