Until the third quarter of 2021, the S&P 500 and the S&P 500 ESG index exhibited similar performance, both indexes were weighted to similar industries as the S&P 500 followed the leading 500 companies in the United States. By the fourth quarter of 2021, the S&P 500 ESG index began to steadily outperform the S&P 500 by four points on average. During the coronavirus pandemic, the technology sector was one of the best-performing sectors in the market. The major differences between the two indexes were the S&P 500 ESG index was skewed towards firms with higher environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores and had a higher concentration of technology securities than the S&P 500 index.
What is a market capitalization index?
Both the S&P 500 and the S&P 500 ESG are market capitalization indexes, meaning the individual components (such as stocks and other securities) weighted to the indexes influence the overall value. Market trends such as inflation, interest rates, and international issues like the coronavirus pandemic and the popularity of ESG among professional investors affect the performance of stocks. When weighted components rise in value this causes an increase in the overall value of the index they are weighted too.
What trends are driving index performance?
Recent economic and social trends have led to higher levels of ESG integration and maintenance among firms worldwide and higher prioritization from investors to include ESG-focused firms in their investment choices. From a global survey group over one-third of the respondents were willing to prioritize ESG benefits over a higher return on their investment. These trends influenced the performance of securities on the market, leading to an increased value of individual weighted stocks, resulting in an overall increase in the index value.