Common Terms Used In Indices Trading

Indices trading involve speculating on the price movements of stock market indices, which represent the performance of a group of stocks. To steer this field effectively, it’s essential to understand the common terms used in indices trading. This guide will introduce you to some of the key concepts and terminology.


An index is a statistical measure that reflects the composite value of a group of stocks. Examples include the S&P 500, NASDAQ Composite, Dow Jones Industrial Average, FTSE 100, and Nikkei 225. Each index has its own method of calculation and represents a specific segment of the market.

Index futures:

Index futures are contracts to buy or sell the value of an underlying index at a predetermined price on a specified future date. They allow traders to speculate on the future direction of the index. Popular index futures include the E-mini S&P 500 and NASDAQ-100 futures.

Spot price:

The spot price is the current market price at which an index can be bought or sold for immediate delivery. In indices trading, the spot price reflects the real-time value of the index.


Margin refers to the amount of capital a trader needs to deposit to open and maintain a leveraged position. It acts as a security for the broker against losses. Margin requirements can vary depending on the broker and the specific index being traded.


Leverage allows traders to control a larger position with a smaller amount of capital. In indices trading, leverage can amplify both profits and losses. It is expressed as a ratio, such as 10:1, indicating that a trader can control a position ten times larger than their margin deposit.


A point is the smallest unit of movement in the value of an index. For example, if the S&P 500 index moves from 3000 to 3001, it has moved one point. Understanding points is vital for calculating profits and losses.


A tick is the minimum price movement of a trading instrument. In the context of index futures, it represents the smallest increment by which the price can change. Each index futures contract has its own tick value, which can impact trading strategies and risk management.