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What is 'Standard & Poor's - S&P'

Standard & Poor's (S&P) is a leading index provider and source of independent credit ratings. S&P was founded in 1860, offering financial market intelligence. S&P Global divisions include S&P Global Ratings, S&P Global Market Intelligence, S&P Dow Jones Indices and S&P Global Platts.

BREAKING DOWN 'Standard & Poor's - S&P'

Standard & Poor’s, which has offices in 26 countries, is well known around the world for its wide variety of investable and benchmark indices, and the large number of credit ratings it issues. 

Standard & Poor's Index

The S&P 500 Index launched in March 1957. It was the first index to be published daily, and it is a common benchmark for determining the overall health of the U.S. stock market. The S&P 500 Index contains 500 of the largest stocks that trade on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, making it a tool to gauge the overall health of large American companies. 

Standard & Poor's Wide Coverage

Other popular indexes offered by S&P Global cover different sectors of the market and different market capitalizations. Large offerings from S&P Dow Jones Indices include the S&P SmallCap 600, the S&P MidCap 400, the S&P Composite 1500 and the S&P 900. Each represents a look at market health based on its subsector.

S&P is a major credit risk researcher. It covers multiple industries, benchmarks, asset classes and geographies. It issues credit ratings on public and private company debt, as well as governments. These include both short-term and long-term credit ratings. These range in scale from AAA to D. It also offers ratings on short-term debt and provides outlook ratings that range from six months to two years.

The McGraw-Hill Cos. purchased S&P in 1966, and in 2016, McGraw Hill Financial rebranded itself as S&P Global. The company has more than 1,400 credit analysts, and more than 1.2 million credit ratings have been issued on governments, corporations, the financial sector and securities. 

Standard & Poor's History

The company started as the Standard Statistics Co. In 1923, it released its first stock market indicator, which contained 233 companies. It would come to be known as Standard & Poor's thanks to a 1941 merger with Poor's Publishing. The merger also boosted the stock index to 416 companies before hitting the magic number 500 in 1957. In 2012, Standard & Poor’s combined its index operations with Dow Jones Indices to create a leader in the industry.

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