In This Article
- What are Indices?
- How are Stock Market Indices Computed?
- Why Trade Indices?
- Decide whether to trade cash indices or index futures
- What are CFDs and how do they work?
- What is the best time to trade indices?
- Can I sell off futures before their expiry?
- What is the difference between index trading and stock trading?
- What are the top 5 stock market indices to invest in?
- What is the most popular stock market index?
- What factors influence stock market index prices?
- How are major indices calculated?
- How to scan the indices markets
- What drives index prices?
- Risks of trading indices
- Risk management strategies
- About Us
- Why Choose Us?
What are Indices?
Indices represent the valuation for a segment of a stock market. In other words, it indicates the performance of a group of shares forming an index, in terms of their prices. Take, for example, the S&P 500, also known as the Standard and Poor’s 500, a market index that measures and represents the performance of 500 enormous enterprises listed across exchanges in the United States. It’s an equity index that has also gained a lot of attention and has a massive following. Trading in indices allows investors to attain extensive exposure to a market segment or the whole economy while accessing a single open position at a time.
With CFDs, you can trade without investing in the underlying securities by speculating on the rise and fall in the prices. Further, Indices offers an incredibly liquid market with longer trading hours than other markets, enabling investors to explore substantial opportunities.
How are Stock Market Indices Computed?
Most of the stock market indices are computed based on the constituent companies’ market cap. Such a measuring mechanism gives more significance to companies with a large market capitalization. Moreover, it hints that the performance of these large companies will impact the index’s valuation more than the constituent companies with a low market cap.
On the contrary, some renowned indices follow a price-weighted approach, such as DJIA, also known as Dow Jones Industrial Average. With this approach, the indices are calculated based on the company’s share price, which means companies with a higher share price will be given more weightage and have a more significant impact on the index.
Why Trade Indices?
Allows traders to go long or short
Trading with CFDs enables traders to go long or short with their indices. Going long indicates that a trader buys in anticipation of a future price rise. On the other hand, going short signifies that traders sell their indices with an anticipated fall in prices. While dealing in CFDs, your gains and losses are based on the reliability and accuracy of your speculations and the measure of the market fluctuation.
Engage in leveraged trades
CFDs are traded as leveraged products. It implies a trader only has to chip in a small amount for an opening deposit, also referred to as margin. The margin enables you to open a position that unlatches a door to boosted market exposure. As you initiate trading with leverage, a crucial point to keep in mind is that your profits and losses aren’t based on the margin used to open a position but on the total size of your position.
Hedge your positions
If investors have taken up a group of distinct stocks, they are likely to go short on their index to safeguard them against any foreseeable losses. Further, when the market faces a dip and the investor’s stocks lose their value, the short position initiated for the index rises in value and nullifies the losses incurred on the stocks. Vice versa, when the stocks appreciate, the short position on the index will cut down a part of the profits incurred along the way.
It means if a trader opens a short position on distinct shares that forms a part of an index, he/she can hedge to lower risk by opening a long position on an index when the prices are likely to rise. Such a technique will allow traders to earn profits when the indexes rise in value and offset losses with a short position.
Explore indices with CFDs. What are they? CFDs (Contract for Difference) are contracts entered by two participants who deal in the price differences from the commencement of the contract until its closure. These contracts are between a trader and a broker, wherein one of them acknowledges to pay the other against the difference in the asset’s valuation. The trader’s primary goal is to secure profits by opening and closing the trade in such a manner that it results in favorable returns. One of the significant features and advantages of CFD trading is that you can go long or short, hedge your funds, and trade with leverage or margin.
Decide whether to trade cash indices or index futures
Initiating trading with BTI lets you explore trading in indices with two distinct methods.
Cash Indices Trading
Traders looking for short-term trading, similar to day traders, prefer cash indices since they have tighter spreads as compared to index futures. These cash indices are exchanged with spot prices, which are obtained by considering the upcoming month’s future valuation and adjusting the fair price. Most traders close positions before the end of the trading day and open fresh positions the next morning to dodge any overnight funding fees.
Unlike cash indices, index futures are preferred more by traders who have long-term investment plans since they’re inclusive of overnight charges and they possess wider spreads. The exchange value for indices futures is predetermined in the present moment for future delivery. If a trader is keen to hold the same index position for a prolonged duration, turning to index futures would imply that you can skip the frequently occurring overnight funding fees.
What are CFDs and how do they work?
CFDs are financial derivatives that let traders speculate on the rise and fall in prices and identify potential profitable and risk-prone indices. Now that you’ve got a gist of what CFDs are, Let’s run you through basic concepts that elaborate on how Contract for difference works.
Size of Dealings
Generally, CFDs are dealt with in lots through systematized contracts. However, every individual’s contract size differs based on the asset that they trade in as it reflects the position of that asset in the marketplace. Take for example, if gold is available for investments in the commodities market for 100 ounces, and the CFDs with a similar value are traded in lots of 100 ounces. It makes CFD trading similar to other conventional markets such as commodities, options, or derivatives.
Spreads & Commissions
Contracts for differences are offered at two distinct prices, the buy and sell prices. The buying price, also known as the offer price, works out the rate for the opening of a long CFD position. Vice versa, the selling price, aka bid price, refers to the value that traders use to open their short CFD positions. The selling price remains moderately below the current market rates, whereas the buying prices are always faintly more. Spreads are the difference attained between these two rates. Generally, the charges for opening a CFD are included in the spread; it implies that the buy and sell rates will be revised to include the trading cost. Contrarily, some trading platforms charge commissions for opening a CFD position by matching the buy and sell rates against the underlying market assets.
Duration of trade
Unlike options, the Majority of CFD transactions work without a fixed duration. The positions are closed inversely to the manner it was opened. If a trader carries on with an open position past the daily active day, they incur overnight charges. The charges represent the expenses for the capital that the provider has lent you to initiate a leveraged position. As an exception, forward contracts have a predetermined future expiration date and the overnight fees are incorporated within the spread.
Profits & Losses
You can compute the profits and losses acquired from your CFD dealings by multiplying the size of your trading positions, i.e lot of contracts against each contract’s valuation, expressed in pips or point movements. Further, you can multiply the product by the difference obtained after comparing the opening and closing points of the contract.
Profit/Loss= [total contracts * individual contract valuation ] * [closing rate – opening rate]
For an accurate computation of profits/losses from each trade, deduct any costs or fees that you’ve reimbursed. For instance minus commissions, overnight fees, and more.
What is the best time to trade indices?
Generally, certain hours through a trading day or week meet price movements and market volume that slide to the wild side of the market. Although the abrupt shifts could be a consequence of influential news or events. Hence, experienced traders and investors favor the period from 9:30 to 10:30 am ET as it’s the ideal hours of the trading day, offering substantial moves within a short span. Further, each index sees distinct peak hours based on the underlying exchange. However, for new traders, it’s recommendable to skip such peak hours since they are also introduced to higher volatility and risks. Through varied time zones, the ideal time to open a position is when the markets are functional. Since markets for indices function 24 hours around the clock, just like forex, traders only need to spot the best time for them to start a trade.
Can I sell off futures before their expiry?
Yes, Absolutely! Many traders do quit their contracts even before their denoted expiry date. You can sell off futures even before their expiry since you are not obliged to hold onto a futures contract until it expires. To exit your contract, you can consider two options, either sell off your contract or acquire a contract that contradicts and nullifies your last agreement.
What is the difference between index trading and stock trading?
Stock trading refers to the dealings in shares of certain enterprises against their specific pricing. If a trader purchases a share, it implies that the seller transfers ownership of the company.
On the other hand, Index trading allows dealing in a group of shares that makes for an index. The index represents the value, position, and growth of these groups of shares cumulatively, whereas different indices collectively display the position of the stock market as a whole or a segment.
Benefits of Indices Trading
Stock indexes make tracking the health of a market easier. One statistical measurement is enough to gauge the market’s state. Moreover, the historical data of index movements and prices are considered good indicators of how the markets have reacted to specific situations in the past, helping investors make better decisions.
Pros of Index Funds
Since index funds merely track stock indexes, they are passively managed. Index funds have low fees since it does not require active management. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are generally index funds and offer the lowest fees. This saves your money over time since you are paying lesser fees and expenses.
According to active studies, index funds outperform active management funds over time. Consistently beating the market can show diminishing performance too. So, it is only practical to add index funds as a part of your portfolio.
Index funds also allow investors to reach their goals relative to benchmarks consistently. Take, for instance, an investor aiming to beat the market and willing to take more risks to get to the goal. Investing 90% in a low-cost S&P 500 ETF and 10% in a 2x S&P 500 leveraged ETF is likely to beat the market. The risk of picking the wrong stocks is zero with this approach. The only risk to consider is when poor or mediocre market returns lead leveraged ETFs to underperform the market.
One can diversify stock holdings with ETF index funds in other asset classes to reduce the volatility of their portfolio. Government bond funds are usually a good hedge against stock market drops.
What are the top 5 stock market indices to invest in?
The top indices to trade in are:
- DJIA (Wall Street) – tracks the value of the 30 largest blue-chip stocks in the US.
- DAX (Germany 40) – measures the value of the 40 largest companies on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
- Nasdaq 100 (US Tech100) – tracks the value of the 100 largest non-financial companies in the US.
- FTSE 100 – reports the value of 100 blue-chip companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.
- S&P 500 (US 500) – measures the performance of 500 large-cap companies in the US.
What is the most popular stock market index?
Nasdaq-100 has the highest average trading volume. The Invesco QQQ ETF (QQQ) is among the world’s largest ETFs.
From 2009 to 2019, the NASDAQ-100 made 372%, based on price, with total returns rounding up to 430% with the dividends. But this performance does not convey what the future has in store for it.
NASDAQ- 100 is the most volatile market index with a concentrated focus on high-growth companies in the tech industry. This means enhanced risks, right? Yes, but it also means investors can profit by trading on volatility.
To compare the total annual returns, the NASDAQ-100 Total Return Index fared better than S&P 500 Total Return Index in 11 of the 13 years. In 2020, the NASDAQ-100 outdid the S&P 500 by around 30%. But this is not always the case, there are periods of underperformance- the NASDAQ-100 gained 1.76% while S&P 500 gained 6.17% in the first quarter of 2021.
The range of trading products available indicates that investors looking to gain exposure to the NASDAQ- 100 but at the same time aiming to reduce their risk can invest in the NASDAQ- 100 Equal Weighted Index (NDXE). The NDXE gives each component stock an equal weighting of 1%, putting only 10% in the top 10 holdings, and not more than 50%. This makes the weighting diversified and less focused on the index’s technology stocks.
What factors influence stock market index prices?
Stock market index prices move based on constituent companies’ share prices. The performance of the largest components exerts more influence when it comes to indices that are weighted averages.
Interest rates levied by central banks affect the performance of stock markets at large. Expansionary monetary policy along with lower interest rates and active asset purchases at times drive stock market rallies. Meanwhile, increased rates weigh on stock markets.
Indices concentrating on companies with most of the revenues generated abroad can get affected by currency exchange rates. The FTSE 100, for instance, comprises companies that have benefited from weakness in the value of the pound sterling recently, since they received higher income when converting sales revenue in foreign currencies into pounds.
Elections and significant political events can also have an impact on stock market performance. US presidential elections influence international markets as investors consider the impact of the policies of a new administration on the world’s largest economy.
The UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) strongly impacted the FTSE 100 and European stock indices since the Brexit referendum of 2016, with sentiment over the chances of the two sides making an agreement leading to volatility. The long-term relationship between the two sides is still unclear as they go on to negotiate the details of a trade agreement and the UK’s exit settlement.
How are major indices calculated?
Initially, the indices were calculated as simple averages. The share prices of all the constituents were added and divided by the number of companies. But major indices today, like the NASDAQ- 100 and Hang Seng are weighted averages. The two most used formulas to calculate the weighted index value are value-weighted and price-weighted.
Market-weighted indices are based on the total market cap of their constituent companies, meaning the largest companies have a significant impact on the index’s value.
The market cap of every company is calculated based on free-float shares available to trade for all. The free float cap does not include shares held by company insiders and hence it is lower than the total market cap. The FTSE 100 and DAX 30 are some of the market-value-weighted indices.
These are calculated on the share price of their constituent stocks. The companies with the highest share prices impact the value of the index strongly here. Price-weighted indices are not as common as the ones based on market cap. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a prominently known example of a price-weighted index.
How to scan the indices markets
One of the most important pieces of information, apart from its current price, is the daily change (as a percentage) and the number of points that have moved up or down since the morning. For example, DAX CFDs. If you assume that the economic outlook for Germany is positive, you will buy DAX CFDs in the expectation and hope that companies in Germany would see a price rise in the index.
Investors forget at times that indices sometimes may not rise due to the actual economic growth, but only because of the risk appetite to own risky assets, like shares. The deviations in the price are temporary and a price correction is expected very soon. Expert traders are seen comparing the performance of indices from different regions only to stop and take advantage of opportunities.
What drives index prices?
Various external factors are responsible for affecting the market and the overall price performance of certain indexes in the financial markets. But the most substantial factor remains supply and demand levels that affect many different financial assets other than indexes, such as commodities. If the market’s widespread opinion was to buy rather than sell, this will only drive the price of the index.
The Gross Domestic Products is the total amount of services and goods produced by a country. It will include exports, investments, public and private consumption.
The GDP is data released to the people as a summary of the country’s economic health and by default can be a powerful influence on stock index prices. If the country can prove that it is healthy then this will have a positive effect on businesses’ and consumers’ confidence. Businesses will start reporting higher income if the GDP was high and this will cause the stock index prices to shoot up.
Inflation is the rise and fall in the price of goods and services which then influences the overall economy. There are different ways to measure inflation including the Whole Price Index (WPI) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI), traders will consider the price change over the month and the year. Central Banks, Governments, and Businesses will start following inflation levels.
Interest Rate decisions made by Central Banks affect the whole society as well as the loan rates, affecting the prices of everyday items. The interest rate is charged on the overall total amount you borrow. Central Banks have the power to set the rate at which retail banks borrow and lend to each other. Everything will have a widespread and inevitable impact on the country’s economy and will affect the stock market. The normal impact time of interest rates on an economy is twelve months. But in the case of the stock market, it impacts immediately after the announcements.
Risks of trading indices
Lack of Downside Protection
The stock market has shown to be a fantastic investment in the long run, but this doesn’t change the fact that it has had its bumps and bruises. Investing in an index fund, such as one that tracks the S&P 500, will give you the advantage when the market is doing well, but also leaves you entirely vulnerable to the disadvantage.
Lack of Reactive Ability
Index investing will not sustain any advantageous behavior. If a stock is overvalued, it carries more weight in the index. But, it’s the point where wise investors decide to lower their portfolio exposure to that stock. So if an investor carries a sole vision linked to a stock that is undervalued or overvalued, and if the investor only invests through an index, they will not be able to act on that Intel.
No Control over Holdings
Indexes are established portfolios. If an investor buys an index fund, they do not get the personal holdings in their portfolio. An investor might have a favorite food chain or company, a bank, or any specific company that they would have researched about and want to buy. Similarly, many times investors feel or experience that a company is doing better than most companies. Because it might have better brands generating more revenue, or best customer service, management, etc. As a result, investors want to invest in specific companies and not established ones.
Limited Exposure to Different Strategies
There are limitless strategies that investors can use for success, unfortunately, buying an index from the market may not provide you with flourishing ideas and strategies. Investing strategies can sometimes be combined to provide investors with better risk-adjusted returns. Index investing helps in diversification of your portfolio, but any investor can achieve it with as few as 30 stocks, rather than getting 500 stocks that the S&P 500 index would track.
Dampened Personal Satisfaction
Finally, investing can be a hassle and traumatizing, especially when the market is not steady. The selection of certain stocks makes you constantly check quotes, and keeps you awake through the night. Investors think these situations don’t arrive in an index but they are wrong. You will still constantly be checking on the market performance and worry to the end of the earth about the economic landscape. Emotionally speaking you lose all the market satisfaction and excitement of making a great investment and then making a successful profit out of it.
Risk management strategies
According to experts, there are three rules of successful trading
- Cut your losses
- Cut your losses
- Cut your losses
Experts suggest that the most important and common rule of trading is not risking more than 1% of your portfolio on a single trade. Any other way can make you suffer a string of losses, giving you a random distribution of outcomes, always a risk. So don’t damage your portfolio.
You can do more than limit the size of your position, one way to avoid big losses is to place automatic stop-loss orders. The algorithm activates itself when your losses reach a certain level, saving you the hardship of pressing the stop button on a loss.
Emotions out of Trading Decisions
Managing emotions is the most difficult part of being a human. The trading world can be rather traumatizing, a successful trader can give their capital to a newbie, and they will lose all of it because they couldn’t control their emotions while trading. They aren’t prepared to take losses when they have lost the trade and it is the time to get out, they can’t handle the wins either because emotions manipulate them into holding for bigger gains.
Experts suggest that adopting a proven trading strategy and following the rules determined to trade via the strategy will give you success. Getting into a trade when the system commands you and getting out when it commands again. Never have second thoughts about a proven trading strategy.
Key benefits of trading indices
Stock indexes are most easy and proven to know the overall health of a market. Just by looking at one statistical measurement, it is easy to judge the market status. Moreover, the past data of index movements and prices can provide some direction to investors as to how the markets have reacted to specific situations in the past. All the information can be used for making the best choices.
How does index margin trading work?
Buying on margin means loaning money from a broker to purchase stocks. You can think of it as borrowing from your brokerage. Margin trading helps a trader to buy more stocks than he normally or will be able to. To trade on margin, you need a margin account. It is an altered form of a normal cash account, in which you trade using the money in the account.
Who Are We?
Blockchain Tradein is a globally-renowned investment platform, serving its millions of users with its broad spectrum of assets, wealth managers, trained advisors, and other facilities that work around magnifying profits for users. As a powerhouse, we cater to investors, traders, and beginners with analytical charts, trading tools, technical data, etc., that ultimately enriches their investment experience. In addition, our committed support team guides clients and stays within reach 24/7 around the clock.
Why Choose Us?
With our services, you can smash your investment goals with results that go above and beyond your set expectations. Meet professionals who identify market curves, allocate your finances, navigate volatility, and curb risks for you.
You can rely on us because;
- We’re a renowned investment platform trusted and used by 112 million active users.
- Our dedicated wealth managers handle your portfolio and make recommendations, keeping your best interests in mind.
- You can explore stocks, cryptocurrency, indices trading, and other popularly traded assets with us.
- Our portfolio managers ensure transparency by keeping you in a loop.
- Our total margin policy stands as one of the many reasons our investors outdo their performance and score higher profits.
Frequently Asked Questions
With index futures, you can reduce risk by buying a position that will profit if one or more of your other holdings lose money. If you had held long positions in several US tech stocks, for example, you could open a short position in the US Tech 100 to counter any losses you might incur when there is a downfall in the stocks’ value. Alternatively, if you were to go short with a group of large-cap UK stocks, you could open a long position on the FTSE 100 index future to hedge losses against any potential hike in the underlying stocks’ price.
Types Of Stocks
Most people associate stocks with publicly traded shares traded on a stock exchange. However, investors must understand that there are many sorts of stocks and their distinct qualities. A trader must learn how to evaluate when a stock might make for a good investment.
- Indices act as a market indicator reflecting the market/total sector’s buying/selling decisions, reaction to big news and economic events.
- Indices serve as a valuable baseline for comparisons in addition to being a market indicator.
- It supports technical analysis.
- Trading in Indices offers a passive income.
- Lets you diversify your portfolio.
- Index derivatives are increasingly being utilized for portfolio insurance.
Have you been planning to explore the industry with indices trading? Then, create your Blockchain Tradein account and embark on a successful trading journey!