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Statistical composite that measures changes in the economy or in financial markets, often expressed in percentage changes from a base year or from the previous month. Indexes measure the ups and downs of stock, bond, and some commodities markets, in terms of market prices and weighting of companies in the index.


A statistical measure of the value of a certain portfolio of securities. The portfolio may be for a certain class of security, a certain industry, or may include the most important securities in a given market, among other options. The value of an index increases when the aggregate value of the underlying securities increases, and decreases when the aggregate value decreases. An index may track stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and any other security or investment vehicle, including other indices. An index's value may be weighted; for example, securities with higher prices or greater market capitalization may affect the index's value more than others. One of the most prominent examples of an index is the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is weighted for price and tracks 30 stocks important in American markets.


The relative value of a variable in comparison with itself on a different date. Many security price indicators such as the Standard & Poor's series and the New York Stock Exchange series are constructed as indexes. Also called stock index. See also base period.


To adjust a variable by a selected measure of relative value. For example, it has been proposed that an investor's basis on a security be indexed for changes in consumer prices so that only real increases in value will be taxed. Also called tax indexing. See also subindex.


An index reports changes up or down, usually expressed as points and as a percentage, in a specific financial market, in a number of related markets, or in an economy as a whole.

Each index -- and there are a large number of them -- measures the market or economy it tracks from a specific starting point. That point might be as recent as the previous day or many years in the past.

For those reasons, indexes are often used as performance benchmarks against which to measure the return of investments that resemble those tracked by the index.

A market index may be calculated arithmetically or geometrically. That's one reason two indexes tracking similar markets may report different results. Further, some indexes are weighted and others are not.

Weighting means giving more significance to some elements in the index than to others. For example, a market capitalization weighted index is more influenced by price changes in the stock of its largest companies than by price changes in the stock of its smaller companies.


(1) A statistical indicator that measures changes in the economy in general or in particular areas.An example is the cost-of-living index.(2) A reference point against which measurements are taken for purposes of making future adjustments.An adjustable-rate mortgage might begin with an interest rate of 6 percent and provide that it will increase or decrease in a like percentage as the increase or decrease between today's quoted price for 10-year U.S.Treasury bonds and the price on the loan's annual anniversary date.We would say that 10-year T-bonds are the index.

Some leading loan indices include

• Wall Street Journal prime
• Federal discount rate
• Fed funds rate
• 11th District Cost of Funds
• 10-year Treasuries
• One-year LIBOR

References in periodicals archive ?
The estimated decrease in ponderal index associated with MeHg in our study population suggests that MeHg exposure during gestation may result in thinner newborns.
Ponderal index and birth weight are correlated in our population (Spearman's [rho] = 0.
2014); indeed, our estimates for mercury's effect on birth weight and ponderal index appear to be strengthened after inclusion of these variables.
Another possibility is the association of MeHg with ponderal index or other birth outcomes is nonlinear.
Increasing maternal and paternal concentrations of [gamma]-HCH were associated with smaller head circumference and higher ponderal index among girls.
For one previously shown to be estrogenic (PCB-153), we found that maternal concentrations were significantly associated with lower birth weight and head circumference in boys; for another, shown to be antiestrogenic (PCB-156), we found paternal concentrations to be associated with lower ponderal index in both boys and girls (Cooke et al.
Maternal concentrations of PCBs 201 and 206 and maternal and paternal concentrations of OCPs were associated with increased mean head circumference and ponderal index among girls only.
There were no residential or employment location effects on ponderal index or percentage of SGA births (< 10th percentile; results not shown).
Although residential proximity was associated with reductions in birth weight and length, there were no apparent distance effects on head circumference, ponderal index, or percent SGA.
All models of birth weight, length, head circumference, and ponderal index were adjusted for gestational age and gestational age squared.
Dimethyl, diethyl, and total dialkyl phosphate metabolite levels were not associated with birth weight or infant ponderal index and were also unrelated to risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight, and SGA births.