What are Stock Market Indices: A Guide for Indian Investors

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Is there a way you could get a glimpse into the health and direction of the Indian economy? 

Of course, there is. Stock market indices are the tools that could help you. There are a lot of companies on stock markets, which makes it really hard to keep an eye on each one. Indices pick certain company stocks and check on them regularly to see how well the whole market, or a part of it, is doing. In India, these indices range from broad-based benchmarks like the Nifty 50 and Sensex to sector-specific trackers. These provide insights into industries like IT and banking. Now, what exactly are the stock market indices?

Let us take a look!

What are Stock Market Indices?

Stock market indices are tools used to measure the performance of a specific segment of the stock market. They represent a basket of selected stocks that collectively reflect the overall performance of the market or a particular sector.

If you are someone new to trading, it is important to note that different indices in the Indian stock market serve unique purposes.

Definition of Stock Market Indices

Indices meaning in stock market–  It is a statistical measure representing the performance of a specific group of stocks or securities within the market.

Stock market indices, often referred to simply as “indices,” are numerical representations calculated from the prices of a group of stocks. These indices provide an overview of the overall market movement. Indices in the stock market help you compare the performance of different investments.

Types of Stock Market Indices

Stock market indices have various types based on their construction methodology:

  1. Benchmark Indices
    • Examples: Nifty 50, BSE Sensex
    • These indices consist of the top-performing stocks in the market and serve as benchmarks to assess overall market health.
  2. Sectoral Indices
    • Examples: S&P BSE Healthcare, NSE Pharma
    • These indices focus on specific sectors like healthcare or banking, showing how companies within that sector are performing.
  3. Market-Cap Based Indices
    • Examples: S&P BSE Small Cap, NSE 100
    • These indices group stocks based on their market capitalization (size of the company in the market), offering insights into different market segments.
  4. Additional Indices:
    There are several other indices, such as S&P BSE 500, NSE 100, S&P BSE 100, and others, which are larger and comprise a greater number of listed stocks.
    Investors may have varying risk appetites; while stocks listed on the Sensex may be more high-risk, investment portfolios cannot cater to every individual need.
    Therefore, investors should focus on investments that they feel comfortable and safe with.

Now, how are these different indices in the Indian stock market created?

Creation of Stock Market Indices

Market analysts form a stock market index by grouping together stocks. Now, how does that happen?

Stock that share similar characteristics such as market size, business sector, or industry type form one stock market index. The index value is then calculated based on the performance of these selected stocks. However, since each stock has its own price, simply adding up these prices does not determine the index value accurately.

To address this, weights are assigned to stocks in the index based on their market capitalization or stock price. These weights dictate how changes in stock prices affect the overall index value.

a) Market Cap Weightage

Market capitalization is a company’s total value on the stock market. We calculate it by multiplying its current stock price by the total number of outstanding shares.

For example, if a company’s market capitalization is ₹500 crore and the total market capitalization of the index is ₹10,000 crore, the company’s weightage in the index would be 5%. This weightage can fluctuate daily with changes in stock prices.

In India, some indices utilize free-float market capitalization.

Remember that it considers only the publicly traded shares rather than all listed shares.

b) Price Weightage

In this approach, the index value is calculated based on market capitalisation rather than individual stock prices. Consequently, stocks with higher prices exert a greater influence on the index value compared to those with lower prices.

For instance, if a stock priced at ₹1,000 per share has a market capitalisation of ₹10,000 crore, and another stock priced at ₹500 per share has a market capitalisation of ₹20,000 crore, the latter stock would carry a higher weightage in the index due to its larger market capitalisation, despite its lower share price.

How do these two different stock market indices methods differ?

Market Cap Weightage involves selecting stocks in the index based on their total market value (market capitalisation) relative to the index’s total market value.

This means larger companies have a greater influence on the index.

The price Weightage method involves determining the index value by market capitalisation rather than individual stock prices.

Stocks with higher market values have a stronger impact on the index compared to those with lower market values.

Different Indices in the Indian Stock Market

India boasts several prominent stock market indices that cater to different market segments.

1. Sensex (BSE Sensitive Index)

  • The Sensex is one of India’s oldest and most widely tracked indices. It consists of 30 large, actively traded stocks on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

2. Nifty 50

  • The Nifty 50, maintained by the National Stock Exchange (NSE), comprises 50 large-cap stocks.

3. Nifty Bank

  • The Nifty Bank index includes major banking stocks listed on the NSE, providing insights into the performance of the banking sector.

Examples of Stock Market Indices in India

Here are some examples of notable stock market indices in India that cater to specific sectors or themes:

1. Nifty IT

  • The Nifty IT index tracks the performance of information technology companies listed on the NSE.

2. Nifty Pharma

  • The Nifty Pharma index monitors pharmaceutical companies, reflecting trends in the healthcare sector.

3. Nifty Smallcap 100

  • The Nifty Smallcap 100 index comprises smaller companies, offering insights into the performance of small-cap stocks.

Importance of Stock Market Indices

Different types of indices are important for investors.

  • They serve as benchmarks for measuring the performance of investments against the market.
  • Indices help investors make the right decisions by indicating market trends and sector performances.
  • They allow investors to diversify their portfolios by investing in a variety of stocks represented in an index. 


By understanding the different types of stock market indices, investors in the Indian market can make the right choices. From market capitalization-based indices to sectoral trackers, the diverse range of indices in India offers valuable information.

FAQs| Stock Market Indices

How is a stock market index created?

A stock market index is created by selecting a representative group of stocks and tracking their performance as a collective unit.

How is the stock market index formed?

The process involves combining stocks with similar characteristics, such as industry or market capitalisation, and calculating their collective value.

What is the meaning of stock market indices?

A stock market index measures the performance of a selected group of stocks representing a specific market or sector.


Disclaimer: Investments in the securities market are subject to market risks; read all the related documents carefully before investing.