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Index trading: What Are Indices and How Do They Work? IG International


It’s much easier to buy a CFD on a particular index rather than buying or selling all stocks that are included in it. If a trader believes that the market as a whole could rise in the future, they buy an index CFD. If they believe that the market could fall, they sell the index CFD. It’s an easy and cheap way to speculate on the future of a particular stock market.

Gain even deeper insight into your trading behaviour and performance across four key metrics with Performance Analytics, powered by Chasing Returns. Analyse your own trading habits, best and worst trades, best performing markets and much more. Based on these points, indices are popular among most traders, and a section of professional traders prefer to trade stocks, as denoted by the Corporate Finance Institute . Index trading entails the way whereby traders speculate index price changes.

Our execution technology is designed to give you a competitive edge. Learn the basics of CFD trading with our introductory videos and guides at the City Index Trading Academy. Develop your skills with easy-to-understand tutorials and master the fundamentals of trading. We’re committed to lowering the cost of trading, so that your money goes further in the markets.


Any views and opinions expressed may be changed without an update. To understand the risks and costs involved, please visit the section captioned “Important Information” and the “Risk Disclosure Statement”. City Index is part of the StoneX Group, a Nasdaq-listed Fortune 100 company with a proven track record in providing retail and institutional traders with trading services. We’re backed by Nasdaq-listed StoneX, a Fortune 100 company with over a century in the financial markets.

If you are interested in learning how to trade indices, there are three main ways traders could gain index exposure in their portfolios. The period after the end of a quarter, when companies announce their results, is known as the earnings season. Stock index volatility tends to increase during reporting as traders react to the financial results of the companies. Sentiment-linked indices follow a measure of sentiment in the markets, such as volatility. One of the most famous sentiment indices is the Chicago Board of Options Exchange Volatility Index , which measures volatility in S&P 500 index option contracts.

stock market indices

Refer to our product schedule to see all indices open and close hours. Indices can change, removing a company’s stock that has been performing badly or including a new stock that has seen significant growth. When a company’s stock is added or removed from a stock index, the prices can see a shift. Some stocks within an index may be commodity stocks, with any fluctuations in the market having the potential to affect the index price. Ltd. (“SFP”) for the offering of dealing services in Contracts for Differences (“CFD”).

Company financial results

For example, if you think the FTSE 100 will rise, you would open a long position. Your profit or loss is determined by the extent to which your forecast is correct. When acquiring our derivative products you have no entitlement, right or obligation to the underlying financial asset.

For traders looking to speculate from a short-term position, cash indices are used to trade an index intraday. Cash indices tend to have tighter spreads than futures markets and trade around the spot price, which applies fair value to the month-ahead futures price. Cash indices are subject to additional overnight charges, so traders tend to close their positions before the end of day.


Note that the chance of making large profits goes hand in hand with the risk of large losses. Once you have identified support and resistance, you could set up take-profit, stop-loss and limit orders if you want to automate buying and selling the index within the trading range. While stock trading speculates on the value of an individual stock, forex trading speculates on the value of a currency. Note that the forex market is highly liquid and available 24 hours a day except weekends as currencies trade across time zones. The market cap of each company is calculated based on free float shares publicly available for trading. A company’s free float market cap is lower than its total market cap, as it excludes shares held by company insiders.

Go long or short

With 24/5 dedicated client support, we’re always on hand to help – and 99.99% of all valid trades are executed by our market-leading trading technology. Previously, the number of sellers and buyers in a trade determined the prices. The broker’s liquidity will easily handle trade volumes, whether trading Dow Jones, DAX or other popular indices.

Using CFDs rather than futures or ETFs gives you the opportunity to trade in both directions. You can open a long position on an index if you are bullish on the outlook, or go short if you are bearish. You may use risk-management tools such as stops and limits, as well as take-profit orders. In 2022, rising concerns about the potential for a new recession caused by rising interest rates and high inflation have weighed heavily on stock indices. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a strong impact on markets amid Western sanctions on Russia and disrupted supply chains, driving up prices for energy and food. Companies that are publicly listed on stock exchanges are required to release their financial statements quarterly or half-yearly, depending on the exchange.

Japan’s premier stock market index, the Nikkei consists of 225 top-rated companies from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, including prominent Japanese brands such as Toyota and Panasonic. Safe haven currencies and precious metals usually move against the health of an economy, as investors flock to them to keep their assets safe during market volatility. There are numerous stock market indices within the world such as S&P/ASX 200 , FTSE100 , CAC 40 , AEX index , and DAX , IBEX 35.

With a contract based on a price for future delivery, Index Futures CFD trades are generally preferred by traders interested in medium to long-term investments. This is due to the fact that this type of trade does not incur overnight funding or swap charges. Hone your CFD and forex trading skills with our free educational resources designed for experienced traders and get the most from every trade. Trade over 6,000 global markets with our browser-based web trading platform that’s compatible on any device and comes complete with a range of intelligent tools. StoneX recommends you to seek independent financial and legal advice before making any financial investment decision. Trading CFDs and FX on margin carries a higher level of risk, and may not be suitable for all investors.

For example, the 5% index margins allowed traders to deposit only 5% of the value of the trade they want to open, and the rest is covered by the CFD provider. On the other hand, stock index trading limits the returns you may earn from a high-growth company. Individual growth stocks can outperform an index by large multiples, although they carry higher risk. Benchmark stock market indices are often referred to in financial news reports.

What is Index Trading and How Does it Work?

For example, for stock indices, while some share prices fall over time, others rally. Stock indices are calculated in different ways based on the types of companies they track and the goals of the index. Some index calculations give more weight to stocks with higher prices, while others base the weighting on market capitalisation, and others weigh all constituent stocks equally.

Cash indices

The ability to go ‘long’ or ‘short’ means that you can take advantage of stock indices prices falling or rising. One of the top performing and most widely known indices in the world is the Dow Jones. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tracks the overall performance of the 30 largest companies in the US. If the average price of the 30 companies goes up, the DJIA climbs higher as well. If the average price of the 30 companies drops lower, the DJIA will decline too. The information provided herein is intended for general circulation.

Futures trading and options contracts trading are classified as derivatives markets since they originate from the existing stock index. The market has plenty of popular stock indexes for futures traders. Usually, the futures trading market move in synchronisation with the existing stock indexes. As a result, traders can chart the stock indexes as they trade the options or futures market. It is important to do your own research and understand how leverage works before you start trading. Trading index CFDs allows you to gain broader exposure to the financial markets and potentially profit from price trends without owning the underlying indices.

Stock index trading poses a lower risk than trading individual stocks due to diversification. If you trade a company stock and the company goes bankrupt, you can lose your investment. But if one company in an index rebalances regularly, the failing stock would be replaced by the next largest company outside the index.

Index futures are derivative products based on the value traders expect the index to reach in the future. At expiry, you can settle the futures contract for cash, or roll it forward into the next period and continue to hold. A market capitalisation weighted index uses the value of its constituent companies to rank them. Market cap is calculated by multiplying a company’s stock price by the number of outstanding shares.

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