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What is index investing?

The main idea behind index investing is that markets are efficient, and, especially with the low fees of indexed funds, it can be a winning strategy. Index investing is a simple strategy of choosing the indices which reflect your investment beliefs and offer diversification, buying mutual funds or ETFs that track these indices, and holding them for a long period of time. The last 10 years have seen the propagation of index funds for any specific market, industry, country, commodity, etc. Continue reading...

What is active management?

Active management is the practice of attempting to outperform the market with selection and timing. Active management is a thoughtful and time-consuming approach to investing and is the opposite of Passive management. Active managers seek to outperform the benchmarks for their portfolio by researching and selecting stocks and other assets based on strategies and analysis methods thought to be superior. Continue reading...

What is a market index?

Market indexes attempt to give an overall picture of the behavior of the market by tracking the performance of a representative sample of stocks. Different indexes have different focuses. The Russell 3000 samples more of the smaller companies than the S&P 500. Index mutual funds and ETFs track specific indexes but, as you’ll notice in their disclosures, it is impossible to invest directly in an index; they only follow the index by investing in as many of the companies as possible and minimizing lag as much as they can. Indexes give numerical values for the progressive fluctuations in the price action for specific sets of stocks. Continue reading...

What is alpha in investing?

Alpha is a risk ratio which measures gains or losses relative to a benchmark, indicating whether an investor is being compensated with a return greater than the volatility risk being taken. Alpha’s counterpart, the Beta figure, measures how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole or, when examining mutual funds, how similarly the funds move to their relevant indexes. Alpha is expressed as integers, which can be translated into percentage points above or below a benchmark for a time period. Investors are interested in higher Alpha figures: the larger the positive Alpha, the more the fund in question has outperformed its benchmark. An Alpha of 2 indicates a performance 2% greater than its benchmark; inversely, a -2 Alpha would denote 2% underperformance. Continue reading...

What are Sector ETFs?

Sector ETFs hold a portfolio of stocks and other securities that represent a specific sector of the market. Sector ETFS are managed portfolios of securities which are representative of a specific industry or market sector. They might passively track a sector index or be actively seeking alpha over the sector benchmark. The word “sector” is a broad term for a grouping of companies in the market, but the word “industry” is sometimes used interchangeably. There are 10 sectors in the S&P 500: healthcare, financials, energy, consumer staples, consumer discretionary, utilities, materials, industrials, information technology, and telecommunications (telecom) services. Continue reading...

Should I Use Double or Triple ETFs?

Double or triple ETFs can be very volatile investments, so an investor should be aware of the risks involved. By using future contracts to gain maximum leverage, ETFs known as Double or Triple ETFs offer magnified exposure to specific indices. Double and triple ETFs provide double or triple returns, but also incur double or triple losses. For this reason, double and triple ETFs are an extremely risky investment, Day traders and institutional investors make use of these products as short-term hedging strategies or speculative bets. Continue reading...

What are index futures?

Index futures are futures contracts written on an index in which a large position can be held with a relatively small margin requirement. Index futures can be used for hedging or speculation. A "good faith" initial margin deposit (also called a performance bond) of a fraction of the contract size is all that is required to hold a substantial position, with a notional value worth significantly more than the amount invested. Continue reading...

What is an Active Index Fund?

Most index funds are known for using a completely passive strategy to track an index, but some take a more active approach. Some mutual funds track an index by passively using algorithms to buy the shares necessary to build a portfolio which closely replicates an index. Such a fund will have low turnover, will only rebalance slightly based on the market cap or other criteria set forth in the prospectus, and will basically ride out all of the ups and downs of the index in a blind faith for the efficient market hypothesis. Continue reading...

What is MSCI?

MSCI Inc. is a company that is best known for its global indices. MSCI also provides research and pricing capabilities to institutional investors. MSCI was formerly a branch of Morgan Stanley, but grew to be so big that they spun off and formed the independent company, MSCI Inc. Perhaps its best known and used index is the MSCI EAFE, which tracks broad performance of Europe, Asia, and the Far East. Continue reading...

What is market efficiency?

Market efficiency describes the degree to which relevant information is integrated into the price of a security. With the prevalence of information technology today, markets are considered highly efficient; most investors have access to the same information with prices and industry news, updated instantaneously. The Efficient Market Hypothesis stems from this idea. Efficient markets are said to have all relevant information priced-in to the securities almost immediately. High trading volume also makes a market more efficient, as there is a high degree of liquidity for buyers and sellers, and the spread between bid and ask prices narrows. Continue reading...

What are currency warrants?

Currency warrants are relatively new to the international Forex market. They function like puts or calls, depending on whether it is a purchase warrant or a warrant to sell, but they have longer durations, usually between one and five years until they expire. They can be purchased to take a position on a currency index or on a currency pair. Warrants were originally issued by corporations, giving investors the ability to redeem the warrant like a call option to purchase a stock at a strike price. Continue reading...

What is a price-weighted index?

When creating an index, it must be decided what criteria will affect the value of the index, and in the case of a price-weighted index, the only consideration is the price of shares. A price-weighted index is created by adding up the individual price per share of the companies included in the index and dividing by the number of companies. Essentially what you've done is arrived at the average price per share of the companies included in the index. Continue reading...

What is the MSCI ACWI Index?

The MSCI ACWI is the “All Country World Index” - providing the broadest measure for global stocks. The MSCI ACWI tracks performance of stocks from all over the world - literally. It includes all markets and gives the broadest picture for how world stocks are performing. Developed markets account for some 75% of total global output, so the MSCI ACWI includes many countries that are not necessarily palatable contributors to world growth. Continue reading...

What is a commodity index?

Commodity indexes are also called commodity price indexes, and they are informational services which reflect the price action in a designated commodity or basket of commodities. Indexes are often tracked by mutual funds or ETFs, and these can be confused with the actual index. Indexes are computed and published by market research firms. They can serve as benchmarks against which the performance of a specific asset or an investment portfolio can be compared, or they can serve as the model that index funds seek to emulate. Continue reading...

How to use the Accumulative Swing Index in trading?

The Accumulative Swing Index (ASI) is a trendline representing the running total of an oscillator called the Swing Index, first described by Webb Wilder in his book, “New Concepts in Technical Trading Systems.” The Swing Index itself compares the price data from the current period and the preceding period to quantify the positive or negative “swing,” which can be understood as a measure of directional velocity in a price. Continue reading...

How to use the Arms Index (TRIN) in trading

Richard Arms invented the analysis tool that bears his name in 1967. The Arms Index, a technical analysis indicator, is also called the TRIN (short for “Trading Index”) because it seeks to indicate overbought or oversold conditions by serving as an index of trading activity relative to price. The Arms index is calculated using readily available data from major indexes such as the S&P 500 or NASDAQ. The ratio of the number of advancing stocks (stocks whose prices are increasing) to the number of declining stocks (stocks whose prices are decreasing) is computed to give us the A/D Ratio, a market breadth indicator that is one way of viewing the daily breadth of a security. The Advance/Decline Ratio uses the same numbers as the Advance/Decline Line but presents them as a ratio instead. The AD Ratio is sometimes more useful than an AD Line, including in instances where comparing AD for different indexes which have different metrics; the ratio is the standardization with which comparisons can be made. Continue reading...

What is the House Price Index (HPI)?

The House Price Index (HPI) tracks average prices of homes using data from sales and refinancing, tracking the data for the same residential properties over many years. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) publishes it quarterly and relies on data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The HPI is an important index for the real estate and mortgage industry, as well as the economy as a whole. It uses information from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about home sale prices and the refinancing value of homes, tracking the sales and refinancing prices of homes in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac databases, all the way back to 1978. They do this using a weighted repeat-sales method. It is published quarterly by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Continue reading...

What is the Positive Volume Index?

The Positive Volume Index (PVI) is a technical indicator that tracks increases in trade volume for an index or security, as well as the changes in price on those days. Paul Dysart developed the original version of this indicator for market indexes using advance-decline numbers instead of prices. The Positive Volume Index was then redesigned by Norman Fosback for individual securities – the version commonly used today. Continue reading...

What is the Negative Volume Index?

The Negative Volume Index (NVI) is a technical indicator that tracks decreases in trade volume for an index or security, as well as price changes on those days. Paul Dysart developed the original version of this indicator for market indexes, and it garnered renewed attention when it was reworked in the 1970s via Norman Fosback in his book Stock Market Logic. The price changes in a security or the percentage change in an index are only added to or subtracted from the Negative Volume Index on days when the trading volume is lower than the day before. By watching market movement on days with lower trading volume, investors can identify where institutions and fund managers are moving their money. If trading volume is down and the market continues to do well, it means that there is a strong bullish primary trend, and that trading volume is not artificially pushing prices around. Continue reading...

What is the commodity selection index?

The Commodity Selection Index (CSI) is a momentum indicator based on the Directional Movement Indicator and the Average True Range. It helps commodities traders find momentum in commodities futures that seem to be the best candidates to make the trader money in the short term, based on volatility and also the cost of holding the position. This momentum indicator uses multiple other indicators for price, volume, and volatility to find short term trends. It may identify situations where a price movement is likely to persist. This is certainly not a guarantee, and even if a trend is strong there are often retracements and unexpected reversals. Continue reading...