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Dow Jones vs S&P 500

Find out the key differences between the Dow Jones and S&P 500 plus key points to consider before investing.

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The Dow Jones and S&P 500 are stock market indices that track overall market performance. The Dow Jones is made up of 30 large-cap US stocks, while the S&P 500 tracks 500 large US stocks. Holdings in both indices must meet certain criteria and are selected by committees. But the Dow Jones and S&P 500 differ in value, size and diversification.

What’s the difference between the Dow Jones and the S&P 500?

The S&P 500 is a collection of 500 large-cap stocks that trade on US exchanges, while the Dow Jones tracks just 30 stocks.

The Dow Jones is price-weighted, so stocks with higher prices have a greater impact on the index. In the S&P 500, stocks with a higher market capitalization have a greater impact on the index. Each company’s size is measured by the stock price multiplied by the total number of outstanding shares, adjusted for a public float.

Popular stocks in the Dow Jones and S&P 500

Dow Jones

  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • UnitedHealth
  • Visa
  • Walmart
  • Procter & Gamble
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Home Depot
  • Chevron

S&P 500

  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • Amazon
  • Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook)
  • Alphabet Inc A (Google)
  • Apple
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • Visa
  • Procter & Gamble

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Low margin rates
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Dow Jones vs S&P 500: Which is bigger?

The “bigger” index could be the one that tracks a greater number of stocks or the one that tracks stocks with a higher total market capitalization. The S&P 500 tracks more than 16X the number of stocks than the Dow Jones, which tracks just 30.

Dow Jones vs S&P 500: Which is worth more?

The market capitalization of all stocks in the S&P 500 is around $36.7 trillion USD (about $48.91 trillion CAD). The Dow Jones has a market cap of $10.35 trillion USD (about $13.78 trillion CAD). Market cap is the stock price multiplied by the number of outstanding stocks.

The company with the largest weighting in the Dow Jones is UnitedHealth, which has a market cap of $463 billion USD ($616.36 billion CAD). The largest weighting in the S&P 500 is Apple with a market cap of $2.17 trillion USD ($2.89 trillion CAD).

Dow Jones vs S&P 500: Which is more diversified?

With 500 stocks, the S&P 500 is more diversified than the Dow Jones, which only tracks 30 stocks. However, Dow Jones stocks are split across a good range of different sectors. Both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 have a large number of stocks in the technology sector.

If you’re looking for diversification and you like the look of the Dow Jones, you could always add another index fund to the mix to get some global diversification.

What’s the best S&P 500 and Dow Jones index fund?

Here are some of the best performing S&P 500 and Dow Jones funds:

IconFund5 year performanceLink to invest
Vanguard logoVanguard S&P 500 (VFV.TSX)11.96%Buy on Interactive Brokers
iShares logoiShares Core S&P 500 (XSP.TSX)11.01%Buy on Interactive Brokers
Invesco logoInvesco S&P 500 Low Volatility (SPLV.NYSEARCA)9.89%Buy on Interactive Brokers
SPDR logoSPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY.NYSEARCA)12.68%Buy on Interactive Brokers
DWS Xtrackers logoXtrackers S&P 500 Swap (XSPX.LSE)12.48%Buy on Interactive Brokers
IconFund5-year performanceLink to invest
iShares logoiShares Dow Jones U.S. ETF (IYY.NYSEARCA)12.12%Buy on Interactive Brokers
SPDR logoSPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust (DIA.NYSEARCA)12.51%Buy on Interactive Brokers
SPDR logoSPDR Dow Jones Global Real Estate UCITS ETF (SPYJ.XETRA)1.96%Buy on Interactive Brokers
Lyxor logoLyxor Dow Jones Industrial Average (LUX) UCITS ETF (C010.XETRA)11.94%Buy on Interactive Brokers

Is it better to invest in the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones?

Zoe Stabler

Finder expert Zoe Stabler answers

As you can see from the chart above, these indices have historically performed very similarly. You’ll notice that the market capitalization of the S&P 500 is around 3 times that of the Dow Jones despite having more than 16 times the number of stocks on the index.

This means that the Dow Jones is a bit more concentrated. Neither index is better. The one you choose would depend on the stock breakdown you’re interested in. As it’s only got 30 stocks, the Dow Jones wouldn’t create as much diversification as you might be looking for in an investment. The S&P 500 has plenty of diversification available.

What are the top holdings in the Dow Jones and S&P 500?

Dow JonesS&P500
Apple logoAppleApple logoApple
Microsoft logoMicrosoftMicrosoft logoMicrosoft
J&J logoJohnson & JohnsonAmazon logoAmazon
United Health Group logoUnitedHealthMeta logoMeta Platforms (formerly Facebook)
Visa logoVisaGoogle logoAlphabet Inc A (Google)

How to invest in the Dow Jones and S&P 500

  1. Find a Dow Jones or S&P 500 ETF or mutual fund. Some index funds track the performance of all stocks on the index, whereas others only track a certain number of stocks or are weighted towards specific stocks. You should select the fund that best suits your investment goals.
  2. Open a stock trading account. To invest in ETFs or mutual funds, you’ll need to open a trading account with a broker or trading platform. Keep in mind that some index funds may only be available on certain brokerages or platforms. The providers in our comparison table let you invest in Canadian and international stocks. Some of the index funds above are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).
  3. Deposit funds. You’ll need to deposit funds into your account to begin trading. You may need to pay a foreign conversion fee to convert your Canadian dollars into US dollars, so you can buy US stocks.
  4. Buy the index fund. Once your money has been deposited, you can buy the index fund. Most ETFs or index funds come with a small annual fee to cover fund management expenses.

Platforms that let you invest in the Dow Jones and S&P 500

These trading apps allow you to invest in companies within the indices or funds/ETFs that hold stocks in Dow Jones and S&P 500 companies.

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Finder Rating Available Asset Types Stock Trading Fee Account Fee Signup Offer Table description
Interactive Brokers
Finder Score:
★★★★★
4.3 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
min $1.00, max 0.5%
$0
N/A
Winner for Best Overall Broker in the Finder Stock Trading Platform Awards.
CIBC Investor's Edge
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.8 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs
$6.95
$0 if conditions met, or $100
100 free trades + up to $4,500 cash back
An easy-to-use platform with access to a variety of tools to help you trade with confidence.
Questrade
Finder Score:
★★★★★
4.3 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
$4.95 - $9.95
$0
Get $50 in free trades when you fund your account with a minimum of $1,000.
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio to take out some of the guesswork.
Qtrade Direct Investing
Finder Score:
★★★★★
3.7 / 5
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $8.75
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
Get up to a $150 sign-up bonus. Use code OFFER2024. Ends October 31, 2024.
Low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options.
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Bottom line

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 track US stocks. A committee determines the holdings in both indices according to certain criteria. Both indices include some major, large-cap stocks. Many of the stocks on the Dow Jones are also included in the S&P 500, so you’d essentially be investing in both, except for a few stocks, by aligning your investments with the S&P 500.

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Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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