Stock Sectors

In order to start trading stocks CFDs, it helps to know and understand the sectors of the economy into which the stock market is divided. These sectors provide structure to the market and are important to take into account, since industries often move together. This will give you a deeper understanding of what moves groups of stocks and accordingly, when their prices are likely to fluctuate. Below are explanations of each of the sectors:

Popular shares trading screen in the Plus500 WebTrader

Technology

Technology companies tend to focus on software, hardware or process related technologies. Investment in tech stocks has gotten more popular over the past two decades. Some of the most popular companies in this sector are Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet. It is important to keep in mind that, since the technology sector tends to be made up of fast growing companies, tech stocks can be extremely volatile.

Financial

Financial stocks encompass a wide variety of companies, such as banks, insurance brokers, payment processing companies, mortgage lenders, and others. Some popular companies in this sector are Visa, Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg. Financial companies are tied to the economy, so they provide a way to trade general market trends. Due to their stabilizing mechanisms and close regulation, financial stocks tend to be less active; however, they are generally considered solid companies and good long-term investments.

Energy

By trading stocks in the energy sector, you are able to buy or sell shares in companies that, for example, extract or produce important commodities such as crude oil, natural gas and electricity. In fact, the bulk of the energy sector is dominated by big oil companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil. In general, the performance of the energy sector stocks is closely related to the price of crude oil. The energy sector is relatively stable, however at times can experience extreme volatility due to its sensitivity to geo-political events.

Industrial

This sector is made up of construction, defence, machinery and aerospace corporations, as well as airlines, among others. Some popular companies in this sector are 3M, FedEx, Boeing and American Airlines. The value of these companies tends to move along with military /defence operations and the overall economy.

Consumer Discretionary

These are companies where consumers spend their extra income. The consumer discretionary sector encompasses retailers, apparel companies, restaurants and service providers. Some popular companies in this sector are McDonald’s, Nike, Gap and General Motors.

Consumer Staples

The consumer staples sector consists of companies that make basic products such as food and beverages, personal products and household goods. These products are considered essential by consumers, who buy them on a regular basis. Some of the popular companies in this sector are Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive and Walmart. This sector tends to be relatively stable since it comprises the companies that people will continue to buy from, even in times of crisis.

Utilities

This sector is comprised of companies that provide utilities such as water, electricity, and gas. They tend to operate locally with little to no competition. Since people need these services on a consistent basis, the utilities sector tends to be considered a defensive stock sector.

Communications

Consists of phone companies, internet providers and satellite and wireless companies, among others. Examples of companies in this sector are Netflix, Disney, Telefonica and Vodafone. Most of these companies rely on recurring revenue, so they have a predictable income and are less volatile.

Healthcare

The Healthcare sector is made of hospitals and other healthcare providers, medical devices and healthcare equipment companies and pharmaceuticals and biotechnology companies. People always need medical care, either in the form of doctor or hospital visits, or as pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment. Therefore, this sector is considered stable. Some popular stocks in this sector are Abbott, Medtronic, Johnson & Jonson and CVS Health.

Basic Materials

Companies in this sector provide to other companies the supplies they need to make their products. These companies discover, develop and process raw materials such as oil, lumber, glass, or gold. The basic materials are then used by manufacturers, construction companies, chemicals and other companies to make final products for the general population. This sector is closely related to business cycles and tends to flourish with strong economies. Some popular stocks in this sector are Chevron, Vulcan Materials and Nutrien.

Real Estate

This sector consists of real estate investment trusts, real estate developers, brokers, realtors, financiers, or any company connected to the real estate market (residential, retail or industrial). These are the companies in charge of building, operating and buying/selling real estate. Some popular companies in this sector include Re/Max, Simon Property Group and British Land. This sector reacts to interest rate changes, as well as the general appreciation or depreciation of real estate.

Most popular shares in a phone screen

Trading Stock Sectors

Generally speaking, you should only invest in stocks issued by companies that operate in a sector you understand, or stocks that you are familiar with. Knowing the stock sectors and what they react to can be a good starting point to get to know the market and choose what to trade. After choosing a sector, you can choose the stocks you want to trade and research them in order to further your understanding.

Trading platforms such as the Plus500 platform exposes traders to a variety of stocks from all sectors through Contracts for Difference, or CFDs.

Final Thoughts

Knowing and understanding stock sectors can be a key factor to choose what stocks to trade. Each sector is moved by different factors and in different ways. Each sector has a different risk level, volatility, trading volume, and stability. Thus, sectors move up and down at different times and rates. You should analyse which sectors align with your personal trading preferences and goals. Then, you should conduct your own, more extensive research before choosing to trade a particular company’s stock.

Check out the different categories of stocks offered for trading as CFDs on the Plus500 trading platform.

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