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Understanding Lesser-Known Stock Indexes & Major Indexes

Newspaper showing major stock indexes and lesser-known stock indexes

Understanding Lesser-Known Stock Indexes & Major Indexes


To understand the prevailing mood and attitude in the market, it’s necessary to look at stock indexes. Especially the lesser-known stock indexes. If you are an investor, you may determine the pattern of the market by simply checking indexes. Then you can use that information to evaluate which stock has the potential to be a profitable bet.


Benefits of tracking stock indexes

Stock indexes can assist you in recognizing patterns within a given industry and making investment decisions according to those trends. They provide a read on the economy and are considered a leading economic indicator. Indexes, in addition to assisting you in zeroing in on the investment in which you should invest, also serve as a benchmark against which you can compare investments.


How are the indexes of the stock market determined?

The earliest indices used in trading were arithmetic averages. The total number of component firms split total component share prices. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are both unweighted averages, the Nasdaq 100 and the Hang Seng would both be weighted averages.

Stock indices use various methodologies for their calculations, depending on the firms they follow and their intended use. Equities with higher prices may be given more consideration in some index calculations, while they may provide stocks with larger market caps more consideration in others. Learn more here


What are the different categories of indexes?

Many stock indexes are available to investors worldwide, including region, national, exchange-based, industry, currency, and sentiment-based measures. However, you can also trade indices for commodities and bonds in addition to stocks.



The value of a stock market index is based on the prices of the stocks that make it up. Each stock index has different requirements as to how it is calculated. There may also be requirements for inclusion to an index. Financial news coverage frequently refers to DOW, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 but there are many more. They represent different parts of the economy in the US and Internationally, business climate, and company performance.



Bond indexes do exist as well. The most well-known bond index is the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Index. Bonds are a type of debt security that pays a predetermined interest rate and principal amount over their lifespan. An investor who purchases a bond is essentially lending money to a bond issuer at an interest rate.



Specific market sentiment indicators, such as volatility, are tracked through sentiment-linked indices. There are a variety of different sentiment indexes that track builder confidence in the housing market, and consumer confidence. The Volatility Index, calculated by the Chicago Boards of Options Exchange, is one of the most well-known sentiment indexes since it follows the price changes in option contracts on the S&P 500 index.


Compass inhand guiding lesser-known stock indexesThe lesser-known stock indexes

Russell 2000

Russell 2000 Index evaluates 2,000 smaller companies. The London-based FTSE Russell Group maintains the Russell 2000, which focuses on American corporations.

Frank Russell founded the Russell 2000 in 1984. LSEG operates an American index. Two thousand small-cap companies are included. This index measures small and midsize stock performance-10% of Russell 3000’s market cap. Russell 3000 comprises 2,400 companies. The bigger index measures 98% of U.S. companies.

Many investors compare their small-cap funds’ performance against the index instead of using an index like the DOW which may be better suited for large-cap funds.



The MSCI EAFE Index measures large and mid-cap shares across 21 advanced economies, excluding the U.S. and Canada. The Index includes 85% free float-adjusted capitalization in each of the 21 countries and is available for a wide range of geographies, market segments/sizes. The Index is used to compare other assets and to create index-linked financial instruments.


Wilshire 5000

The FT Wilshire 5000 Index employs market capitalization weighting to reflect the entire U.S. investable market. The Wilshire-FT 5000 Index will also be renamed on June 30, 2021. Wilshire 5000 gained 7,500 stocks in 1998, up from 5,000. Since then, the roster has decreased to 3,687 by December 31, 2021. OTCBB or Pink Sheet are not included in the index. Like all market capitalization-weighted indices, the Wilshire Index gives larger companies more weight.


Related: What is an index ETF? Read, “I need the lowdown on what an ETF is”

Which indexes are the most actively watched?

Dow Jones Industrial Average

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, often known as the Dow or just the Jones, is a stock market index that tracks the performance of 30 of the most significant businesses traded on U.S. exchanges. It is one of the most well-known and tracked indexes by news organizations. What people may not know is another Dow Jones index called, Dow Jones Transportation Average, which was the first U.S. market index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the second oldest. The purpose of the DJIA is to reflect the overall health of the U.S. economy.


Nasdaq Composite Index

Market capitalization-weighted indexes of more than 3,700 stocks traded mainly on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The Nasdaq Composite Index is becoming standard fare in coverage of the stock market because of its broad nature and high weighting in the crucial technology sector.

To calculate its value, the Nasdaq Composite Index considers how much money is in the market for each company. One can determine the index’s value using the current stock prices of the stocks comprising the index. An unchanging index divisor is applied to this sum to make the necessary adjustments.


S&P 500

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index measures 500 of the biggest publicly traded U.S. companies by market capitalization. This index analyzes more than market cap to identify the top 500 largest U.S. companies. The S&P 500 index is still a primary indicator of the performance of the top 500 publicly traded U.S. corporations and, by extension, the stock market. S&P only counts freely tradable shares for market capitalization.

S&P adjusts each company’s market capitalization, including share issuances and acquisitions. After correcting for inflation, the index’s value is calculated by summing all of the companies’ market capitalizations and dividing by a factor. S&P doesn’t release the divisor for security.

Wall StreetHow are major and lesser-known stock indexes compiled

Committees in charge of constructing indices determine the inclusion requirements for individual equities. Such groups routinely discuss changes to the index criteria and the inclusion or exclusion of certain companies.



Indexes provide a gauge to different areas of the global economy and the US economy. You should now have insight into the lesser-known stock indexes as well as, the major ones. With all this information in mind, you will now be prepared to track the movements of markets and calculate them if you ever need to nerd out with math. Rather than monitoring the indexes yourself, partner with a virtual financial advisor instead. Set up a time to chat with BlackBird Financial Advisor and see if we are the right fit.



Hayes, A. (2022, December 13). Ft Wilshire 5000 index (FTW5000): Definition and what’s included. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/wilshire5000equityindex.asp#:~:text=The%20FT%20Wilshire%205000%20Index%20%28FTW5000%29%20is%20a,of%20Wilshire%27s%20partnership%20with%20The%20Financial%20Times.%202

Kaplan Company, T. C. for F. P., Inc. (2022). Investment Planning. The College for Financial Planning, Inc. .

Mitchell, C. (2023, March 29). Market sentiment indicator: How it’s used in analysis and types. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sentimentindicator.asp

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