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How to Trade in Indices

Many traders and investors use indices to get exposure to a whole market, investing subject, or industry. This article will show you the most widely followed stock indexes worldwide and explain how to spread, bet or trade CFDs on derivative products based on indices trading, including the FTSE 100 and others.

What Are Indices?

A financial market index acts as a barometer of sorts, reflecting the general direction of activity in the market. Indices are baskets of stocks chosen to represent the whole market or of a specific sector of the market. The Sensex index, for instance, tracks the performance of 30 of the Bombay Stock Exchange’s most stable and successful firms.

Stock prices are used to determine an index’s value. Indices are used to indicate the overall performance of a set of equities. The rate of change of an index is more significant than the value itself. Direct exchange in an index is impossible, and the index is measured in points rather than a currency.

Investing in Indices: A Guide

There are three primary avenues by which investors may include index exposure in their portfolios, all of which can be explored by those interested in learning how to trade indices.

Cash Indices

Cash indices are traded to bet on the direction of an index daily. Fair value is applied to the month-ahead futures price, and cash indices around this price make for smaller margins than futures markets. Because of the higher overnight fees associated with cash indices, investors typically cancel their holdings before market closing.

Index Futures and Options

Although the margins on index futures and options trading are larger than those on cash instruments, the overnight costs still apply. Index futures are derivative instruments whose price is determined by the price at which traders anticipate the underlying index will trade in the future. Futures contracts can be settled for cash or “rolled” into the subsequent period and held on to.


One of the most common ways to trade indices is through purchasing and selling exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other index-tracking investment vehicles. Exchange-Traded Funds invest in the assets that make up an index by buying and selling those assets at the same weighting as the index. Typically, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) will identify the index against which they are compared and give performance data. Thus, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) provide a simple entry point for novice traders seeking exposure to indexes. Furthermore, they are better suited to index investment over the long run.


One more common method of betting on the movement of index values is using contracts for difference (CFDs). They are a type of agreement between a trader and a broker that allows the trader to speculate on the price movement between the opening and closing of a position. Traders who anticipate an increase in prices will establish an extended position. In contrast, those anticipating a price decline will open a short position.

Contracts for difference (CFDs) are leveraged instruments that enable investors to increase their potential profits on a lesser initial investment. Remember that the leverage that might increase your gains in trading CFDs can also increase your losses if you use them for trading stock indices.

Traders that specialise in the study of a certain market area or industry may find indices trading helpful since the values of indices often serve as effective comparative indicators. Trading indices also helps you diversify your holdings and keep your portfolio risk-managed.

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