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What is the S&P 500?
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What does an ETF allow investors to do?
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Hi, my name is Jon and I'm and independent investor from Kansas City and I'm here today to talk to you about what is the S & P 500 for About.com.

Standard and Poor's 500 Index

Like the Dow Jones industrial average the S & P 500 or the Standard and Poor's 500 index is also a market average of the top 500 publicly traded American companies. Many consider it the best representation of the stock market and the overall U.S. economy. Most investors consider the S & P to be one of the best benchmarks to judge their overall market performance. Say the S & P 500 is up 6% for the year and your investments are up only 4% for the year, in other words, your investments lagged in overall market performance by 2 points.

Exchange Traded Funds

Since it would be difficult for an investor to buy all 500 of the companies in the S & P's index, there are a number of financial products available based on the S & P 500 to the individual investor, many of these products are referred to as exchange traded funds or ETFs, that way an investor can own a piece of all 500 companies in the index and your investment will increase or decrease at the same rate as the S & P 500.

Thanks for watching and for more information on stocks and investing, be sure to check us out on the web at money.about.com.
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