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Indexes Galore

Q: What other major stock indexes are there, other than the Dow and the S&P 500?

— B. B., Midland, Michigan

A: There are a bunch of major U.S. indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the most famous, but it contains only 30 companies, including American Express, Apple, Chevron, Home Depot, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Pfizer.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 features 500 large U.S. companies, and its components account for about 80% of the total market value of the U.S. stock market. The Dow and the S&P 500 are often viewed as proxies for the overall U.S. economy.

Other major indexes include the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index, which includes almost every publicly traded U.S. company; it originally sported roughly 5,000 companies, but now has about 3,500. The Russell 3000 Index includes close to 3,000 of the largest U.S. companies based on market capitalization (current share price multiplied by number of shares outstanding). The Russell 2000 is a small-cap company index, made up of about 2,000 of the smaller companies in the Russell 3000.

Looking beyond the United States, the Vanguard Total International Stock index represents almost all of the world stock market outside the U.S. There are many other indexes, broad and narrow, with some covering international regions, such as Asia or Brazil, or various sectors, such as health care or financial services.


Q: How does one get money into an online brokerage account in order to buy stocks?

— G. L., online

A: You could walk into a branch of the brokerage with cash or a check, or mail in a check, or use direct deposit or electronic transfer. Learn more about brokerages at ¦

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