Markets & Finance

The S&P 500 Turns 50


The benchmark stock index has amassed quite a few milestones in its half-century. Here are some highlights

From Standard & Poor's Index ServicesStandard & Poor's is marking the 50th anniversary of its flagship equity index, the S&P 500, on Mar. 5. Since its inception in 1957, the S&P 500 has become synonymous with the health of the global economy, and has spawned the creation of numerous investable products, as evidenced by the $1.2 trillion directly invested in the index.

The S&P 500-stock index is the cornerstone of the Standard & Poor's global indices. Today, the S&P 500 is accepted as the leading measure of the large-cap segment, representing nearly 75% of U.S. market capitalization. In order to be included in the index, a company must have market capitalization exceeding $4 billion, and, like all S&P U.S. index constituents, must meet Standard & Poor's published guidelines for inclusion.

Along the way, the index has achieved a number of milestones during the period from Mar. 5, 1957, to Feb. 26, 2007. Here are some we at S&P Index Services thought you might find interesting:

S&P 500 Fun Facts

Mar. 5, 1957 - Feb. 26, 2007

Closing price on Mar. 5, 1957 = 44.42

Average closing price since 1957 = 377.69

Average point change since 1957 = 0.11

Average percentage change since 1957 = 0.03%

S&P 500 closed up 6,608 days; average gain = 2.71, or 0.63%

S&P 500 closed down 5,900 days; average loss = -2.80, or -0.64%

73 days of no change in the price of the S&P 500

Best one-day point gain = Mar. 16, 2000, +66.33

Worst one-day point loss = Mar. 14, 2000, -83.95

Best one-day percentage gain = Oct. 21, 1987, +9.10%

Worst one-day percentage loss = Oct. 19, 1987 -20.47%

Average yield = 3.19% (currently 1.73%)

Average P/E on GAAP 17.37 (currently 16.48)

Average payout 49.64% (currently 30.58)

First closed at or over 100 on June 4, 1968

First closed at or over 200 on Nov. 2, 1985

First closed at or over 500 on Mar. 24, 1995

First closed at or over 1,000 on Feb. 2, 1998

First closed at or over 1,500 on Mar. 22, 2000

Highest close = 1527.46 on Mar. 24, 2000

Best year = 1958, 38.06%

Worst year = 1974, -29.72

Best quarter = Q1 1975, +21.59

Worst quarter = Q3 1974, -26.12

Best month = October, 1975, 6.30%

Worst month = October, 1987, -21.76%

Estimated shares traded for the underlying issues is 4,287,212,318,580

10.83% total return, of which 32.87% is from reinvested dividends

Best stock = Altria (formerly Phillip Morris), $1 invested now worth $8,400+

86 issues have been in the index since 1957


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