Global Industry Classification Standard - GICS

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DEFINITION of 'Global Industry Classification Standard - GICS'

A standardized classification system for equities developed jointly by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) and Standard & Poor's. The GICS methodology is used by the MSCI indexes, which include domestic and international stocks, as well as by a large portion of the professional investment management community.

The GICS hierarchy begins with 10 sectors and is followed by 24 industry groups, 67 industries and 147 sub-industries. Each stock that is classified will have a coding at all four of these levels.


BREAKING DOWN 'Global Industry Classification Standard - GICS'

The GICS system was established in 1999 and has since become widely followed through direct use by portfolio managers and benchmarking to MSCI indexes. All told, more than 26,000 stocks worldwide have been classified by GICS, accounting for more than 95% of the world's listed market capitalization. MSCI estimates that more than $3 trillion in assets is benchmarked to its MSCI funds, many of which are sector-specific.

The main goal of GICS is to allow all market participants to classify stocks by standardized industry definitions. GICS is used to make portfolio diversification and overall asset allocation decisions from within a common framework.

GICS competes with the Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB) system, which is maintained by Dow Jones and London's FTSE Group. In practice, most of the same sector and industry designations exist in both standards.

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