FTSE 100 vs S&P 500

Find out the key differences between the FTSE 100 and the S&P 500 index, plus some important points to consider before investing.

See the top company holdings Top holdings for each fund
FTSE 100 vs S&P 500 performance Compare historical data

The S&P 500 and FTSE 100 are major stock market indices. While the S&P 500 consists of 500 of the largest stocks from various US exchanges, the FTSE 100 includes the top 100 stocks from the London Stock Exchange. There are significant differences between them.

For a start, if you invest in the S&P 500, your money is invested in a dollar-denominated fund (unless you use a hedged version). In addition, the S&P 500’s juggernauts are overwhelmingly fast-growing tech stocks. Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 is weighted towards slow-and-steady companies in sectors like Energy, Industrials and Financials.

We look at more differences between the S&P 500 and FTSE 100 below.

What’s the difference between the S&P and the FTSE?

The S&P 500 and FTSE 100 are both stock market indices containing some of the biggest companies in the US and the UK. The FTSE 100 is simply the 100 biggest UK shares by market capitalisation. The S&P 500 is slightly different, market cap plays an important role but there’s other criteria a stock must meet to make it onto the index.

S&P 500

  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • Amazon
  • Meta
  • Alphabet Inc A (Google)
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • Nvidia
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Tesla

FTSE 100

  • AstraZeneca
  • Unilever
  • HSBC Holdings
  • Diageo
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • British American Tobacco
  • BP
  • Shell
  • Rio Tinto
  • Lloyds Banking Group

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What to consider when comparing the FTSE 100 and the S&P 500

When looking at the S&P 500 and FTSE 100, it’s important to consider various factors. Currency fluctuations play a role, as a stronger US dollar can benefit investments in the S&P 500 when converted to pounds, while a stronger pound can have the opposite effect. Investors can mitigate this risk by using currency hedging strategies.

Another aspect to consider is income. Holding an index fund covering either of these indices will lead to dividend payments, but the FTSE 100 has a current yield of 3.9% whereas the S&P 500 pays a lower yield of 1.1%.

Additionally, the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios differ, with the FTSE 100 usually having a much lower average P/E ratio (around 10), while the S&P 500 tends to trade at higher multiples (around 20).

How do currency fluctuations impact investments in the S&P 500 and the FTSE 100?

If the US dollar gets stronger compared to the pound, it means that investments in the S&P 500 may be worth more when converted to pounds. On the other hand, if the pound gets stronger, it can make investments in the S&P 500 less valuable for British investors.

It’s important to realise that when investing in companies abroad, you’re exposing yourself to currency risks as well as equity risks.

However, there are ways to isolate yourself from these risks while still getting exposure to the S&P 500. For example, iShares S&P 500 GBP Hedged UCITS ETF uses currency hedging strategies to cancel out the effect of currency movements on your returns.

FTSE 100 vs S&P 500: Which is bigger?

The S&P 500 contains 500 stocks, while the FTSE 100 is made up of just 100.

The FTSE 100 is also a lot smaller than the S&P 500 in terms of market capitalisation – (as of March 2024) the FTSE 100 has a market cap of around £1.9 trillion, while the S&P’s market cap is around $42.8 trillion (about £33.6 trillion). That makes the S&P 500 about 12 times the size of the FTSE 100 in terms of market cap.

FTSE 100 vs S&P 500: Concentration

There are 503 stocks in the S&P 500 and 102 stocks in the FTSE 100 — this is because of the different classes of shares that some companies have. When it comes to concentration, even though the S&P 500 is very top-heavy due to the mega-cap stocks weighted at the top, you might be suprised about the results.

The top 10 stocks in the S&P 500 make up just over 30% of the total index. Whereas for the FTSE 100, the top 10 shares make up around 47% of the total index. There, the FTSE 100 could be viewed as a more concentrated index.

The top 10 stocks in the S&P 500 (also listed below) make up just short of 30% of it.

FTSE 100 vs S&P 500: Stock quality

Judging stocks on quality is quite a subjective form of analysis. The top stocks in the FTSE 100 are vastly different from the top ones in the S&P 500, and the rest of each index also largely differs. The S&P 500 is made up of a lot of technology stocks, whereas the FTSE 100 contains only a handul.

The FTSE 100 has more stocks that could be considered “defensive”, meaning they may perform well during a recession or a downturn. Because, setors like Consumer Staples, Energy and Utilities can have pricing power or involve essential spending. However, the S&P 500 also now has its own fair share of blue-chip stocks. When it comes to stock quality, it depends what you’re looking for as an investor.

FTSE 100 vs S&P 500: Which is more diversified?

It depends on what sort of diversity you want. Obviously, the S&P 500 contains more stocks than the FTSE 100, but this doesn’t neccessarily make it more diverse.

A number of US companies in the S&P 500 have international operations, but so too do business in the FTSE 100. Both indices contain stocks across a wide range of sectors. The S&P 500 is quite concentrated with around 30% in Information Technology stocks, but the FTSE 100 is thinly spread at the bottom with only around 1% in Technology and 1% in Telecommuncations.

Platforms where you can invest in the FTSE 100 and the S&P 500

These trading apps allow you to invest in companies within each index directly or to invest in funds/ETFs (exchange-traded funds).

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  • Over 5,400 stocks & ETFs

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  • 0% commission on trades
  • Choose from 3000+ stocks
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What’s the best S&P and FTSE index fund?

Here are some of the best-performing S&P 500 and FTSE 100 funds according to JustETF:

IconFund5-year performance (to February 2024)Link to invest
Invesco iconInvesco S&P 500 (SPXP)100.34%Invest with XTBCapital at risk
DWS Xtrackers iconXtrackers S&P 500 Swap (XSPX)99.39%Invest with XTBCapital at risk
Vanguard iconVanguard S&P 500 (VUSA)97.44%Invest with XTBCapital at risk
iShares iconiShares Core S&P 500 (CSP1)97.42%Invest with XTBCapital at risk
SPDR iconSPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPX5)97.09%Capital at risk
HSBC iconHSBC S&P 500 (HSPX)96.87%Capital at risk
IconFund5-year performance (to February 2024)Link to invest
iShares iconiShares Core FTSE 100 (CUKX)30.38%Invest with eToroCapital at risk
Vanguard iconVanguard FTSE 100 (VUKE)30.29%Invest with XTBCapital at risk
Xtrackers iconXtrackers FTSE 100 (XDUK)30.05%Capital at risk
Lyxor iconLyxor FTSE 100 (100D)29.51%Capital at risk
Invesco iconInvesco FTSE 100 (S100)29.48%Capital at risk
HSBC iconHSBC FTSE 100 (HUKX)28.63%Capital at risk

All investing should be regarded as longer term. The value of your investments can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. If you’re not sure which investments are right for you, please seek out a financial adviser. Capital at risk.

A green metals boom could make the FTSE 100 shine

Mark Tovey

Money expert Mark Tovey answers

The FTSE 100 is home to 6 world-class mining companies, meaning it could strike it big in a green metals bull market.

According to metals expert Guillaume Pitron, “Over the next generation, we will consume more minerals than in the last 70,000 years.” That is due to the world’s increasing adoption of resource-hungry “green” technologies. The battery in an electric car, for example, needs lithium, manganese, cobalt, graphite, steel and nickel to run.

In previous commodities bull markets, the FTSE 100 has tended to outperform other indices. In 2022, its focus on commodities paid off as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused price shocks in oil, gas, nickel and other raw materials.

By owning FTSE 100 miners like Anglo American, Antofagasta, BHP Group, Fresnillo, Glencore and Rio Tinto, investors can get exposure to a wide range of critical metals. However, commodities markets are viciously cyclical. If global economic growth slows, that could be a major downer for mining companies.

What are the top holdings in the S&P 500 and FTSE 100?

Here are the top holdings of the S&P 500 and the FTSE 100. As you can see, the top 10 stocks in the S&P 500 contains mostly Information Technology companies. Meanwhile, the top stocks of the FTSE 100 are mainly Energy, Financials and Healthcare shares. Keep in mind the largest constiuents of each index can shift regularly.

S&P 500FTSE 100
iconApple6.6%iconAstraZeneca 8.1%
iconMicrosoft7.3%iconUnilever5%
iconAmazon3.5%iconHSBC Holdings6.3%
iconMeta (Facebook Class A)2.1%iconDiageo3.3%
iconAlphabet Inc A (Google)2%iconGSK 3.3%

How to invest in the S&P 500 and FTSE 100

  1. Find an S&P 500 or FTSE 100 index fund. Ideally, look for a fund with low fees, because if each fund is tracking the same index, you should try and minimise your costs where possible.
  2. Open a share-trading account. To invest in the funds, you’ll need to open a trading account with a broker or platform. Keep in mind that some index funds may only be available on certain brokerages or platforms. We’ve included some index funds below that are listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
  3. Deposit funds. You’ll need to deposit funds into your account to begin trading.
  4. Buy the index fund. Once your money has been deposited, you can then buy the index fund. You’ll generally pay a small ongoing fee to invest in an ETF or index fund.

Best trading platform for index funds: Saxo

Saxo Markets logo
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★★★★★

We chose Saxo as our top pick because:

  • Invest in over 19,000 stocks, funds and investment trusts.
  • Use their award-winning trading platforms.
  • Customer support available 24 hours a day.

Need to know: Opening a Saxo share dealing account requires a high minimum investment (£500).

Read our review of Saxo.

Which index has better stock diversification?

This can be down to interpretation, but here are some of the head to head stats and insights as a broad overview.

S&P 500FTSE 100
Type of stocksLarge cap US equitiesLarge cap UK equities
Number of holdings503102
Top sectorsInformation Technology 29.5%, Healthcare 12.8%, Consumer discretionary 10.3%, Financials 13.1%, Communication Services 8.9%Financials 18.9%, Consumer Staples 16.5%, Healthcare 13.3%, Energy 12.5%, Consumer Discretionary 12.4%
Exposure to global economyHighHigh
Past performanceStrongerWeaker
Availability of ETFWideWide

Compare S&P 500 and FTSE 100 trading platforms

Table: sorted by promoted deals first

These trading apps allow you to invest in companies within the indexes directly or to invest in funds/ETFs.

Name Product Finder score Min. initial deposit Price per trade Frequent trader rate Platform fees Offer Link
Finder Award
OFFER
CMC Invest share dealing account
4.4
★★★★★
£0
£0
N/A
£0
Earn up to £1,000 when you transfer a minimum of £25,000 into your CMC account, plus get your first 3 months free when you upgrade to Plus plan. T&Cs apply. Capital at risk.

Capital at risk

Platform details
Finder Award
FREE TRADES
eToro Free Stocks
4.4
★★★★★
$100
£0 on stocks
N/A
£0

Capital at risk. Other fees apply.

Platform details
InvestEngine
4.3
★★★★★
£100
£0
N/A
0% - 0.25%
Get a Welcome Bonus of up to £50 when you invest at least £100 with InvestEngine. T&Cs apply.

Capital at risk

Platform details
XTB
4.3
★★★★★
£0
£0
£0
£0
Earn up to 4.9% interest on uninvested cash. Tiered interest rate structure applies depending on value of existing assets.

Capital at risk

Platform details
Halifax share dealing account
4.2
★★★★★
£20
£9.50
£2
£36 per year

Capital at risk

Platform details
Hargreaves Lansdown Fund and Share Account
4.2
★★★★★
£1
£11.95
£5.95
£0

Capital at risk

Platform details
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Bottom line

Both the S&P 500 and the FTSE 100 allow you to invest in some of the biggest stocks and shares in the US and UK respectively. Each index has its benefits and drawbacks, you might find that investments copying both could find a place in your portfolio.

Each index contains some excellent businesses across a variety of sectors and generating profits around the world (not just in the US and the UK). Ultimately, investors seeking growth may lean towards the S&P 500, while those looking for stability and higher income payments from dividends may prefer the FTSE 100.

Frequently asked questions

All investing should be regarded as longer term. The value of your investments can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. If you’re not sure which investments are right for you, please seek out a financial adviser. Capital at risk.

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