Top 3 Things To Consider Before Investing in Indices

BY Chris Andreou

|February 2, 2023

There are many things to consider when index trading. Heralded by many well-known traders such as Warren Buffet, Investing in indices is regarded as one of the best and most efficient trading methods and it can be rewarding when you know what to do. So, we’ve gathered together all the information you need and categorized it nicely and neatly in these top 3 things to consider before investing in indices.

Top 3 Things To Consider Before Investing in Indices:

  1. Benefits of investing in indices
  2. Disadvantages of index trading
  3. Best strategies for investing in indices

But first let’s talk about what indices are for those who may not know.

What are Indices?

Indices are equities of various companies grouped together. Indices serve as a measure for the price development of a collection of shares from a market. One such stock market index is the Nasdaq-100, which consists of 101 equity securities issued by 100 of the biggest non-financial corporations listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. It is a capitalization-weighted modified index.

9 Most Popular Indices To Trade:

  1. S&P 500
  2. Dow Jones Industrial Average
  3. FTSE 100 Index
  4. CAC 40
  5. Hang Seng Index
  6. S&P/ASX 200
  7. DAX Performance Index
  8. Nikkei 225
  9. Nasdaq Composite

S&P 500

The Standard and Poor’s 500, known as the S&P 500, is an index of the stock market that measures the share performance of 500 significant businesses that are listed on American stock exchanges. It is one of the most popular equity indices.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, sometimes known as Dow Jones or just the Dow, is an indicator of 30 renowned US firms that are traded on stock markets. One of the first and most widely used equity indices is the DJIA.

FTSE 100 Index

The FTSE 100 Index, formally known as Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, or also called FTSE 100, FTSE, or, colloquially, the “Footsie,” is an equity index made up of the 100 businesses with the biggest market capitalizations that are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

CAC 40

The CAC 40 ‒ a price return index ‒ is an important French stock market index. The index is a capitalization-weighted measurement of the top 40 stocks on the Euronext Paris market cap 100 list of most valuable equities.

Hang Seng Index

The Hang Seng Index is a market capitalization-weighted stock market index for Hong Kong that has been freefloat adjusted. It is the primary indicator of the performance of the Hong Kong stock market as a whole and is used to track and record daily changes in the top businesses listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Xiaomi Corporation, and CNOOC Limited are some of the biggest companies in Hong Kong represented by the Hang Seng index.

S&P/ASX 200

The S&P/ASX 200 index is a stock market index of equities listed on the Australian Securities Exchange that is float-adjusted and market capitalization weighted. Maintained by Standard & Poor’s this index is regarded as the industry standard for Australian equities performance.

DAX Performance Index

A stock market index and total return index, the DAX Performance Index is made up of the 40 biggest German blue chip businesses traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. To obtain prices for trading, traders use the Xetra trading platform. In order to decide whether to purchase or sell, traders try to predict whether the price of an index (the group of stocks) will rise or drop.

What is Index Trading?

Investing in indices, otherwise known as index trading, is when a trader invests in a certain stock market index, like the ones listed above. So, if you as a trader decide to invest in indices then you are investing in a group of companies, or a parcel of companies where you will profit on the average performance of the group and not on the performance of one single stock or company. An index’s value rises when the share prices of the companies it contains do as well. The value of the index will decrease if the price instead declines.

5 Benefits of Investing in Indices

There are several benefits to trading indices. Below we discuss five of the main benefits of index trading.

  1. ideal for long-term investments
  2. Easy to trade
  3. Cost-effectiveness
  4. Portfolio diversification
  5. Less risky than single stock investing

Index Trading Benefit #1: Ideal for long-term investment

Investing in indices, otherwise known as index trading, has the benefit of being an ideal trading option for long term investment because it has low costs and high liquidity. In addition, index funds have low management fees and can be sold at any time with no penalties.

Index Trading Benefit #2: Easy to trade

Trading indices is fairly easy due to high liquidity. Buyers and sellers can swiftly swap indices thanks to liquidity, although not all indices are equally liquid. Selling your investments or getting the price you want for them is dependent on whether there is someone willing to buy them.

Index Trading Benefit #3: Cost-effectiveness

Buying and selling index trades can be quite cost-effective, as you can often start by investing a very low amount to start. Index trading can also be quite lucrative since you are investing in a group of companies all at once with the potential to make more money faster.

Index Trading Benefit #4: Portfolio diversification

Trading indices allows you to diversify your portfolio since you have the opportunity to buy into a large number of stocks with just one transaction. You can also increase your leverage by using borrowed funds from an online broker. This gives you more control over how much money you invest in each trade and you can diversify by investing in more than one index.

Index Trading Benefit #5: Less risky than single stock investing

Index trading has the benefit of being less risky than investing in a single stock because an index which is a parcel of stocks can yield a profit even if one of the companies in the parcel is not doing well on the market. If the rest of the companies in your index are performing well, then your index’s overall performance has the potential to help you profit.

5 Disadvantages & Risks of Investing in Indices

Just like there are many benefits to investing in indices, there are also risks and disadvantages that can quickly impact your account. Just like indices can be highly profitable fast, you also run the risk of losing a lot of money fast. Read on to learn what these risks and disadvantages are so you can safely trade and protect your investments.

  1. Highly volatile market
  2. Inaccurate information
  3. Timing risk
  4. Legislative influences
  5. Affected easily by unforeseen events

Investing in Indices Risk #1: Highly volatile market

Investors must realize that the value of their indices may fluctuate by as much as 50% or more within the timespan of a year. Trade prices can go up or down quickly and unexpectedly so where you may stand to make a lot of money, you may also suddenly lose a lot if your whole parcel of companies performs badly. Now, volatility and risk may vary depending on the industry and sector. For example during the covid-19 lockdown any indices connected to the oil industry had overall bad performance compared to indices related to the tech industry.

Investing in Indices Risk #2: Inaccurate information

Are the insights and tips you are getting legit? Or are you basing your index trading decisions on what you may hear on mainstream news without doing your research. You need to make sure that your investment guidance comes from reliable and expert sources. When taxation, ongoing fees, and frequent changes in investment cycles impact indices performance, it is best to avoid trade recommendations that boast high rates of return on investments.

Investing in Indices Risk #3: Timing risk

Due to market cycles, some trade classes and sectors within the indices are more risky when the stock market as a whole has risen rapidly and is about to react. The contrary may be true if the stock market has seen a sharp loss before beginning to rebound after displaying some signs of stabilization. Not all markets and market segments follow the same price cycles. You can manage timing risk by learning about the different market cycles and being aware of shifts and changes.

Investing in Indices Risk #4: Legislative influences

Law changes can affect your trading strategy, and investments. It is specifically important to stay on top of legislative changes or factors that could impact your trades when you are investing in indices because one or more of the stocks within an index can be impacted and therefore affecting the performance of the entire index and your investment.

Investing in Indices Risk #5: Affected by events

The stock market and certain industries are highly impacted by national or international events. As it is often said, when the USA sneezes, Europe will soon catch a cold. This means that regardless of which index you are invested in, your investment could be affected by an event that happens thousands of miles away in another country or continent.

Best Strategies for Investing in Indices

We have now arrived at the last of the top 3 things to consider before investing in indices. So, what is the best strategy for index trading?

The most ideal strategy is not the most efficient or cost effective. That would be to buy stocks in every company in an index at equal weight to ensure the same risk and return ratio as the benchmark index. However, as mentioned, it is not efficient nor realistic.

A more cost-effective approach would be to only buy into the most heavily-weighted stocks of an index or sampling a proportion of around 20% of the index.

Investing in Indices FAQs

As usual, we’ve gathered the most frequently asked questions to give you a further boost in knowledge on the topic at hand.

Are indices worth investing in?

Index trading is regarded as one of the best and most efficient trading methods. And, not to name-drop or anything, but if Warren Buffet ‒ the most famous and respected of traders ‒ endorses investing in indices, then who are we to throw shade on it.

Investing in indices has long been touted as one of the best financial decisions you can make. Indices are reasonably priced, provide for diversification, and typically have the potential to produce enticing returns over time. However, they are not without their share (pardon the pun) of challenges and risks as described in the previous section, so Warren Buffet endorsement or not trade smart and safely!

Are indices better than forex?

Forex is the least volatile market so when compared to trading indices, indices are the winner, because the truth is you need volatility in order to trade. Someone will lose and someone will win. Between foreign exchange and equities, index trading falls somewhere in between in terms of what is better as it is a great option for both long-term and short-term trading.

Which indices move the most?

If you’re looking to invest in indices that move fast then you want to look for the ones with the largest ‘basket’ of stocks and companies under their wing. One such index is the S&P 500 which is a market capitalization weighted index with a lot of movement.

Is it better to invest in Nasdaq or S&P?

If you want to diversify your portfolio the S&P 500 is the right choice for you. However, if you can handle a little increased risk with potentially additional gains, then Nasdaq 100 is the right fit for you.

Ready to Start Trading Indices?

So, you’ve weighed the pros and cons and are ready to give investing in indices a try. What you’ll need is to open an account with a reliable and trusted broker. Check ratings and reviews and test out your chosen broker by starting small.

Not to toot our own horn, but at TIOmarkets we offer a great starter package at only $50. You can start trading on any instrument or market of your choice. You can also try out our risk-free demo account before you put any real money into it. With a demo accunt you can familiarize yourself with the market and the platforms. Then, when you’re ready and you’ve done your homework, you can register for a live account. With a live account you can start small or put a bit more juice into it if you feel confident.

All the best on your trading venture and remember, trade smart and trade safe!

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Chris Andreou

Experienced independent trader

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Trade responsibly: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing all your invested capital due to leverage.