Thursday June 25, 2015  


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  What is the S&P 500?
  What is the difference between the E-mini & larger futures contract?
  What are the quote symbols for each?
  How much is an S&P 'point' worth?

     What is the S&P 500? top
     Standard & Poor's 500, created in 1957. The S&P 500 index is a basket of 500 mid and large cap companies weighted by market value, and is representative of the stock market as a whole.

There are three variants of the index that can be traded: The Cash a.k.a SPDR (Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipt) or Spider, traded on the American Stock Exchange, the futures a.k.a Spooz, traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (C.M.E) and the E-mini, short for Electronic Mini.

     What is the difference between the E-mini & larger futures contract? top
     Introduced in 1997, the E-mini is a five times smaller variant of the larger contract traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The E-mini changes in minimum increments of .25 index points, while the larger contract has a minimum tick size of .10. To calculate the size (or value) of each contract, you must multiply the futures price by $50 for the E-mini, and by $250 for the larger contract.

     What are the quote symbols for each? top
     The symbol for the S&P 500 index is INX or SPX, while the symbol for the Cash S&P contract (SPDR) is SPY. The symbol for the futures E-mini is ES, and SP for the larger futures contract, to which one must add the month and year code, for example M for June and 3 for 2003, so that the June 2003 quote symbol is ESM3 for the E-mini and SPM3 for the larger futures contract.

     How much is an S&P 'point' worth? top
     A full 'point' or 'handle' is, for example, the difference between 980.00 and 981.00. The value of such a full 'point' depends on the contract and has changed over time. For example, the value of each E-mini full 'point' is worth $50, while on the larger contract, it is worth five time as much, or $250. On the SPDR (Cash contract), each unit is worth about one tenth of the value of the S&P 500.

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