S&P 500 historical data: What the S&P 500 index does and what it has done

The S&P 500 index is a very important tool in analysing the markets. But what has it done in the past?

In this guide

Standard and Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is a crucial tool for traders. If you want to invest in this US stock index, it makes sense to learn about S&P 500 historical data. 

But before we look at historical data, let’s look at what the S&P 500 is and what it does.

What is the S&P 500?

The S&P 500 tracks the 500 biggest public companies in the US.

Before we get into the S&P price history, let’s take a look at the history of S&P as a business.

  • In 1860, financial analyst Henry Varnum Poor launched Poor’s Publishing. To raise levels of understanding about the growing railway industry, he published History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States, updating the book every year with new financial and operational information.

  • In 1868, Poor teamed up with his son, Henry William Poor, to found H.V. & H.W. Poor Co., which published annual directories about American railways and investing in them.

  • In 1906, Luther Lee Blake founded the Standard Statistics Bureau, which released cards about the financial status of American businesses that were not railways.

  • In 1923, the Bureau, now renamed the Standard Statistics Company (SSC), started publishing a weekly stock market index of 233 American companies.

  • In 1926, the SSC began putting out a daily index of 90 companies.

  • In 1941, the Standard Statistics Company merged with Poor’s to become Standard & Poor’s.

  • In 1957, the index expanded to 500 companies.

How does a company get onto the S&P 500?

According to the guidelines set out by S&P, a company becomes eligible for the S&P 500 if it meets the following criteria:

  • Is based in the United States.
  • Has a market capitalisation of at least $11.8bn.
  • Has high liquidity.
  • Has a public float of at least 10% of its shares.
  • Has positive earnings for the most recent financial quarter and overall positive earnings for the four quarters before that.

Meeting these criteria does not mean a company will automatically go on the S&P 500. Every three months, the S&P US Index Committee meets to decide which companies appear on the index, taking into account which sector a company operates in. For instance, if one particular sector makes up around a quarter of large businesses in the US, then the S&P 500 will look to accommodate around 25% of its makeup to that sector. 

As noted, membership is not automatic. The index features both household names, such as Amazon, American Express, and Ford, and less well-known companies, such as Illinois Tool Works, Skyworks Solutions and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Although S&P doesn’t reveal the names of committee members to the public, it does say: 

“All committee members are full-time professional members of S&P Dow Jones Indices’ staff.”

Despite the secrecy, it is known that David M Blitzer, who maintained a high profile despite his membership of the committee,  chaired the committee from 1995 to 2019. The current CEO of S&P Dow Jones Indices is Dan Draper.  

Another point is that while the S&P 500 features 500 companies, it often has more than 500 listings because some companies have two classes of shares, with one having more voting rights than the other. If the company is on the index, then both share types will be listed separately. However, the S&P committee has ruled that dual-class companies currently on the list will be the last ones to appear in such a format. 

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How the index score is calculated

The index score helps people understand how companies are doing and the overall strength of the market. It is calculated in the following way:

Find a company’s free-float market capitalisation by multiplying the price of its shares by the number of shares actively available in the market, excluding nominal, locked-in shares, such as those allocated to company executives and governments. Perform the same calculation for all companies on the index and add them together. Once you have done that, you then divide that figure. However, the divisor is not made public. Its job is to make the large numbers for the S&P float-adjusted market cap more manageable. 

What is the S&P 500 historical data?

One way to explore the S&P 500 index price history is through this widget.

US500 price history

Date Close Change Change(%) Open High Low
Jun 29, 2022 3834.0 5.4 0.14% 3828.6 3834.1 3819.9
Jun 28, 2022 3828.6 -77.9 -1.99% 3906.5 3949.4 3820.7
Jun 27, 2022 3907.0 7.7 0.20% 3899.3 3947.6 3891.2
Jun 26, 2022 3899.2 -17.9 -0.46% 3917.1 3917.7 3898.4
Jun 24, 2022 3913.7 129.5 3.42% 3784.2 3918.5 3780.9
Jun 23, 2022 3784.4 40.7 1.09% 3743.7 3804.9 3733.7
Jun 22, 2022 3743.5 -19.9 -0.53% 3763.4 3804.6 3691.6
Jun 21, 2022 3763.6 48.8 1.31% 3714.8 3782.4 3709.7
Jun 20, 2022 3714.5 11.8 0.32% 3702.7 3722.3 3659.2
Jun 19, 2022 3703.2 13.8 0.37% 3689.4 3705.3 3682.7
Jun 17, 2022 3680.5 5.3 0.14% 3675.2 3711.0 3636.5
Jun 16, 2022 3675.1 -142.6 -3.74% 3817.7 3829.7 3639.8
Jun 15, 2022 3817.5 60.3 1.60% 3757.2 3840.4 3721.5
Jun 14, 2022 3758.0 -2.2 -0.06% 3760.2 3805.8 3707.1
Jun 13, 2022 3760.7 -101.1 -2.62% 3861.8 3863.1 3733.9
Jun 12, 2022 3861.9 -8.6 -0.22% 3870.5 3876.1 3857.3
Jun 10, 2022 3904.8 -118.2 -2.94% 4023.0 4030.4 3895.1
Jun 9, 2022 4023.0 -95.2 -2.31% 4118.2 4144.8 4015.6
Jun 8, 2022 4118.7 -28.6 -0.69% 4147.3 4160.2 4106.4
Jun 7, 2022 4147.4 25.8 0.63% 4121.6 4164.9 4076.9

Why look at S&P 500 historical data?

S&P 500 history price chart

Although past results in no way indicate future performance, it’s helpful to have some idea of how things have gone. If you’re a trader, it can be useful to look at how the stock market has behaved during past events. For instance, if there’s another pandemic, then looking at the S&P 500 index historical data from 2020 and 2021 might give investors clues as to how the market will react to massive disruption in the future. Likewise, you can look at economic downturns. If you have the information on why they happened (which the index does not provide, so you should do your own research) and the markets’ reaction to them, you can make a more informed decision about what to do in similar circumstances.

S&P 500 historical data is also useful when it comes to assessing whether current price indicates future growth, looking at the index’s response to economic booms.

Analysis tools, such as zig zag graph, can also give traders an edge. But traders must do their own research and not rely on S&P 500 historical prices.

How to trade and buy into the S&P 500

There are several ways to invest in the S&P 500. You can consider index-related funds, such as mutual funds. This is a fairly passive way of investing, which means you may not be able to take advantage of opportunities offered by short-term trading. 

You can open positions via a bank or broker. This does have the drawback, though, of having your profits tied up with the amount you have invested, so there is no scope to trade in the margins. In addition, you cannot use cryptocurrencies to do this, you have to use fiat.

Through currency.com, you can trade with either crypto or fiat currency. You can also use our leveraged trading platform to open much bigger trading platforms, with a leverage of up to 1:100. You can take profit orders and our system can execute 50 million trades per second. However, you do need to do your own research, remember markets can go down as well as up, and never invest more than you can afford to lose. 

Trade USA 500 - US500 price chart

USA 500
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Low: 3802.1
High: 3835.2

Further reading

The material provided on this website is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as investment research or investment advice. Any opinion that may be provided on this page is a subjective point of view of the author and does not constitute a recommendation by Currency Com Bel LLC or its partners. We do not make any endorsements or warranty on the accuracy or completeness of the information that is provided on this page. By relying on the information on this page, you acknowledge that you are acting knowingly and independently and that you accept all the risks involved.
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