What Is the Russell 3000 Index?

The Russell 3000 Index is a market-capitalization-weighted equity index maintained by FTSE Russell that provides exposure to the entire U.S. stock market.

The index tracks the performance of the 3,000 largest U.S.-traded stocks, which represent about 98% of all U.S.-incorporated equity securities.  

Key Takeaways

  • The Russell 3000 Index is a market-capitalization-weighted equity index.
  • The index tracks the performance of the 3,000 largest U.S.-traded stocks, which collectively account for roughly 98% of all U.S.-incorporated equities.
  • The Russell 3000 Index serves as the basis for a broad range of market indexes, such as the large-cap Russell 1000 and the small-cap Russell 2000 index.
  • Large-cap stocks direct a majority of the index’s performance, while the returns of other segments are overlooked.

Understanding the Russell 3000 Index

The Russell 3000 Index serves as a building block for a broad range of financial products, which include the large-cap Russell 1000 and the small-cap Russell 2000 index. The largest 1,000 stocks indexed in the Russell 3000 constitute the Russell 1000, while the Russell 2000 is a subset of the smallest 2,000 components.

The Russell 3000 measures the performance of the largest 3,000 U.S. companies that represent approximately 98% of the investable U.S. equity market. The Russell 3000 Index is constructed to provide a comprehensive, unbiased, and stable barometer of the broad market and is completely reconstituted annually to ensure that new and growing equities are included.

A significant portion of the underlying index is represented by securities in the financial, consumer discretionary, healthcare, and technology sectors. The technology sector’s weighting in the index has steadily increased over the past decade, as many companies have adapted to an increasingly tech-focused economy. The biggest holdings comprise tech giants such as Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Facebook (FB), and Amazon (AMZN).

As of June 2021, the average market capitalization of stocks in the index stands at $416 billion and the median at $2.4 billion.

Russell Index Reconstitution

The Russell U.S. Indexes are designed to reflect the ever-changing U.S. equity market, and the annual reconstitution process is critical to maintaining accurate representation. When the indexes are reconstituted, the breakpoints among large-cap, midcap, and small-cap stocks are redefined to ensure market changes that have occurred in the preceding year are captured. Companies are also evaluated to determine where they lie along the investment styles spectrum from value to growth. As a result, companies will be added to, removed from, or swapped among the Russell 3000, 2000, and 1000.

Stocks in the Russell 3000 index are reconstituted once a year, on the last Friday in June. May is “ranking” month, when all eligible U.S. companies are lined up to form the preliminary Russell Reconstitution portfolio. At this time, all eligible securities are ranked by their current market capitalization. This ensures that growing or shrinking companies are accurately represented in the overall index.

At any time, if a particular security is no longer eligible for membership, then a replacement is named at the next scheduled reconstitution. Thus, the number of securities in the index will fluctuate according to corporate actions such as mergers, acquisitions, or going private.

2021 Russell Index Reconstitution

Beginning on June 4, 2021, preliminary lists were communicated to the marketplace, and updates were provided on June 11, 18, and 25. The newly reconstituted indexes took effect after the market close on June 25. The rebalance is expected to drive a record tilt toward larger companies over small, growth companies over value, and tech/healthcare over the other sectors.

The largest five companies in the Russell U.S. Indexes have remained unchanged since 2019’s reconstitution, but the order of them has since changed. Apple is again the largest company in the index, followed by Microsoft, which is now the second largest company in the index after trading spots with each other. The total market cap of the ten largest companies has increased since last year’s reconstitution.

Limitations of the Russell 3000 Index

Many investors often mistake buying the Russell 3000 as a way of securing a diversified mix of large-cap, midcap, and small-cap stocks. However, the truth is that large-cap stocks direct a majority of the index’s performance, while the returns of other segments are overlooked. As a result, the performance of the Russell 3000 often exhibits a high correlation with the S&P 500 and does not effectively capture the total stock market.

A more effective way of building a diversified portfolio is to invest in multiple funds across various categories, such as domestic stocks, foreign securities, and income instruments.