French Stock Market Index

CAC 40: French Stock Market Index

The CAC 40, an acronym for “Cotation Assistée en Continu,” is a prominent index and tracks the performance of France’s largest stock exchange, Euronext Paris. It monitors the 40 most actively traded companies on this exchange since its inception in 1987, thereby providing a valuable benchmark for global investors to measure the performance of the French stock market.

If you’re reading this article about the CAC 40, you’re likely seeking insights into French market trends and opportunities. CAC 40 is the definitive barometer of France’s highest-valued companies, and CAC 40 offers a snapshot of current economic strength and investment potential. This article looks at the index’s workings, its key players, and its significance for your portfolio.

CAC 40 French Stock Market Index
CAC 40 – French Stock Market Index

Key Takeaways

  • The CAC 40 is a major French stock market index tracking the performance of 40 large, actively traded companies on the Euronext Paris.
  • Constituents of the CAC 40 are selected by the CAC 40 Index Committee based on criteria like free float market capitalization and share turnover, ensuring a diverse representation of French industries.
  • Investing in the CAC 40 offers diversification within the French economy, but it also comes with risks such as a lack of growth stocks, especially in the technology sector.

What is CAC 40?

The CAC 40 is a French market capitalization-weighted index. This structure gives more influence to companies with higher market caps. It serves as an indicator for France’s general market trend and economic vitality, just like the S&P 500 does for America.

Illustration of the CAC 40 index

The diversity of companies in the CAC 40 index, representing various sectors and industries, makes it an attractive investment for foreigners seeking to invest in different areas of the French economy. By investing in the CAC 40, you get broad exposure to the French stock market. However, this is a large-cap index, thus you get no exposure to the interesting small-cap segment in France.

What is the history of CAC 40?

The history of CAC 40 starts in 1987. Established on the final day of December in 1987, the CAC 40 index began with a foundational value set at 1,000. “CAC” originates from “Cotation Assistée en Continu,” which means “Continuous Assisted Quotation,” as associated with Paris Bourse’s automation system at that time.

As time passed, the composition of CAC 40 has been modified by embracing change and adapting to new methods. Notably, in 2003, there was a shift away from using total market capitalization as its standard towards adopting a free float-adjusted market capitalization strategy for indexing purposes.

How does CAC 40 work?

France's Market Pulse CAC 40

The CAC 40 index works by tracking the market performance by evaluating its included companies, which are chosen according to:

  • The free float market capitalization and liquidity of their shares.
  • Being predominantly large multinational corporations.
  • Spanning a wide variety of industries.

The CAC 40 index reflects France’s economy by including the top 40 companies. The index is updated every 15 seconds during trading hours to track market movements. The CAC 40 is a price-return index, considering share price changes but not dividends.

What is the importance of CAC 40?

The CAC 40 holds a prestigious position within the French and international economic circles, acting as an essential barometer for France’s financial vitality. Its composition of multinational companies attracts foreign investors seeking entry into the French market.

Its significance extends also to portfolio management and derivatives trading.

What is the purpose of CAC 40?

The CAC 40 serves a dual purpose: It acts as an indicator of the French stock market and also indirectly measures the vitality of the overall French economic activity.

How is CAC 40 calculated?

Illustration of CAC 40 as a barometer for the French economy

The calculation of the CAC 40 index involves multiple elements. Initially, it takes into account the free float market capitalization of a company, reflecting the total value of its shares that are actively traded in the market. To prevent any one company from having an excessively dominant influence on the index, their impact is restricted through a capping factor that limits individual weightings to no more than 15%.

Every quarter there’s a reassessment where companies’ issued share numbers are examined and adjusted as necessary. This adjustment ensures that all companies within the CAC 40 have their presence capped at this threshold during each quarterly evaluation. Consequently, these measures maintain an equitable representation and precise indicator for assessing French market performance within this benchmark stock market index.

What is the market capitalization of CAC 40?

The market capitalization of CAC 40 is, at the time of writing, 2.3 trillion euros, which is 2,300 billion.

Obviously, the market cap varies from day to day, so by the time you read this article it might be lower or higher.

What criteria does the CAC 40 Index Committee use to select constituents?

The CAC 40 Index Committee’s criteria to determine its constituent companies are based on the market capitalization adjusted for free float and the volume of shares traded over the past year.

When a company’s equity structure includes more than one class of shares on Euronext, only those classes that experience higher trade volumes are incorporated into the index.

What are the benefits of investing in CAC 40?

The benefits of investing in the CAC 40 offers include:

  • Exposure to a most of the stock market capitalization in France.
  • Exposure to international companies.
  • Exposure to French large-cap stocks.
  • The potential to act as protection against inflation because stocks historically have outperformed inflation to generate positive real returns.

Due to the high liquidity associated with components of the CAC 40 index, investors can easily enter and exit positions. This mainly benefits individuals and entities that want to buy many shares or traders that want to trade in and out.

What are the downsides of investing in CAC 40?

The downside of investing in CAC 40 is the following:

  • You get exposure to large caps – not small caps.
  • CAC 40 primarily comprises international companies and the direct exposure to France is small.
  • Correlation to other large-cap indexes is high.

Also, there is a significant lack of growth stocks within the CAC 40, especially technology ones.

What are the constituents of CAC 40?

The constituents of CAC 40 include various industries, such as Basic Materials, Industrials, and Financial Services. Some famous companies in the index are L’Oréal, Airbus, and Total, for example.

What is the biggest constituent of CAC 40?

The biggest constituent of CAC 40 is the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton, frequently referred to as LVMH. It is the most substantial component of France’s CAC 40 index as of writing. Its market cap is 450 billion EUR.

Is CAC 40 the same as the stock market?

The CAC 40 is not the same as the stock market, but most of the capitalization comes from constituents in the CAC 40. Thus, it should not be mistaken for the entire market itself.

CAC 40 is an index reflecting the performance of 40 well-capitalized companies listed on Euronext Paris. Contrary to the broader stock market, which includes all public companies that can be traded, the CAC 40 constitutes a selected group of firms chosen according to particular standards. The small-cap segment is ignored by the CAC 40.

Is it good to invest in CAC 40?

It’s good to invest in CAC 40 if you want to gain exposure to large French stocks. The index represents a significant portion of the whole market capitalization, but it has low exposure to growth stocks, small-caps, and technology stocks. If this is a good decision is entirely up to you.

However, it features established firms across various industries, presents investors with diversification benefits, and has the potential for stable returns. This attribute makes it particularly appealing for those with a slightly conservative investment approach.

Can we invest money in CAC 40?

Yes, we can invest money in CAC 40, it only takes a second if you have an online broker.

You have the ability to put money into the CAC 40 through various strategies. These include:

  • Engaging in trading derivative products linked to the CAC 40, like futures and options
  • Allocating funds to Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) designed to mirror the performance of the CAC 40
  • Individually buying and selling shares of companies that comprise the CAC 40.
  • Trade CAC 40 futures contracts.

There’s an option to invest in mutual funds or index funds and exchange-traded funds that hold a stake in the CAC 40. This offers an investment path that spreads risk across all forty firms in this index.

What are the main sectors in CAC 40?

The main sectors in CAC 40 include the following:

  • Basic Materials
  • Industrials
  • Financial Services
  • Consumer Defensive
  • Consumer Cyclical

These particular sectors hold substantial weight in the composition of the index.

Critical segments such as Healthcare, Energy, Communication Services, Real Estate, and Utilities are also integral to the CAC 40’s sectoral representation.

How can one invest in CAC 40?

You can invest in CAC 40 by investing in derivatives, including CFDs and futures contracts that are based on the index, ETFs, and mutual funds.

To engage with companies within this market sphere, one might:

  1. Commit funds to an ETF keyed directly to replicate the overall performance of all included firms.
  2. Opt for direct transactions involving individual securities from those represented on said index catering towards particular industries or interests.
  3. Allocate capital into mutual funds or specially curated index funds that aim for a broad investment across all forty corporations comprising it, thereby ensuring diversification within their portfolio.

Where can I invest in the CAC 40 index?

There are many brokers that offer access to the CAC 40 index. Investment platforms such as Skilling EU, Plus500, and Eightcap allow investors to put their money into the CAC 40 index. Individuals can access derivatives and ETFs connected with the CAC 40 through these online trading interfaces. Through brokerage accounts, investors can acquire individual stocks within this index or invest in ETFs and index funds tied to it.

Acknowledged as a suitable platform is AvaTrade, where traders have opportunities to participate in transactions involving the CAC 40 index.

However, we believe Interactive Brokers is the best pan-European broker.

How do I invest in the CAC 40 index?

Investing in the CAC 40 index is a fairly straightforward process. One can acquire ETFs that mirror the index’s performance, including options like Amundi CAC 40 UCITS ETF and Xtrackers CAC 40 UCITS ETF, which provide versions that either reinvest dividends or distribute them.

For those interested in more active trading strategies, online platforms offer opportunities to engage with CFDs (Contracts for Difference) or futures contracts tied directly to the movements of the CAC 40 index. That said, we believe CFD trading is inferior to ETFs and mutual funds.

There is an option to invest directly by purchasing stocks from individual companies represented within the components of the CAC 40. This approach allows investors direct exposure to specific firms on this widely recognized French stock market index.

What are the different ways to invest in CAC 40?

Investors can use several ways to put their money into the CAC 40. They can opt for either ETFs or index funds that mirror the index’s performance, thereby gaining diversified exposure to all the companies included in it. Alternatively, investing directly in individual stocks within the CAC 40 allows them to concentrate on particular companies or sectors.

Futures contracts and Contracts for Difference (CFDs) provide mechanisms to wager what lies ahead for the CAC 40’s performance. While these methods come with an increased possibility of higher gains, they also carry a more significant level of risk.

Does CAC 40 pay dividends?

Companies included in the CAC 40 index might distribute dividends, offering a potentially lucrative “income” for investors. As of writing, the average yield from dividends across this index stood at 3.27%.

Notably, within the CAC 40 Index, firms like Engie, Credit Agricole, and Orange are among those that provide higher dividend yields at rates between 6 and 9%. However, don’t get fooled by a high dividend yield, you often find value traps in this segment.

What is the historical significance of the name CAC 40?

The historical significance of the name CAC 40 ori originates from the French phrase “Cotation Assistée en Continu,” which means “Continuous Assisted Quotation” in English. This term indicates the uninterrupted trading activity on France’s stock exchange.

Since its establishment, the CAC 40 has undergone extensive development. Yet, its name remains a reminder of where it started and how it has progressed over time.

Are there any alternative indices that compete with the CAC 40 in France?

There are alternative indices that compete with the CAC 40 in France. For instance, the MSCI France index monitors a selection of major French stocks. There is also the CAC Next 20 index, which follows up on those companies with the largest market capitalizations right after the top tier included in the CAC 40.

Has the CAC 40 index ever experienced a trading halt or suspension?

CAC 40 index has experienced a trading halt, although we are not aware of the particular date and time of such occurrences. Similar to other indices in the market, it’s prone to encountering such halts or suspensions due to intense market instability or exceptional conditions.

Normally, these actions are implemented to maintain equitable and systematic trading practices while also safeguarding investors against drastic fluctuations within the market.

What is the origin of the ticker symbol “CAC” and why was it chosen for this index?

The acronym “CAC” in the French stock market index stands for “Cotation Assistée en Continu,” meaning “Continuous Assisted Quotation.” This name was selected for the index to signify the perpetual nature of trading on the French stock exchange.

What are the 5 biggest companies in the CAC 40?

The 5 biggest companies in the CAC 40 are the following:

  1. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton
  2. L’Oreal
  3. Hermès
  4. TotalEnergies
  5. Sanofi

Spanning various industries such as luxury items, beauty products, energy, and pharmaceuticals, these companies illustrate the multifaceted nature and robustness of France’s economic landscape.


Essentially, the CAC 40 serves as more than a simple market index. It represents the vitality and variety inherent in France’s economy. Acting both as a standard for investment strategies and an indicator of economic health within France, this index has undergone continuous transformation since its creation in 1987 to keep pace with shifts in economic conditions.

For those looking to invest in the French marketplace or anyone keen on grasping international financial systems’ intricacies, delving into the CAC 40 can provide compelling perspectives on finance.

Frequently Asked Questions

CAC index which country?

CAC is the main stock index in France. Tracking the performance of France’s stock market, the CAC index is a crucial barometer that reflects the 40 largest French stocks listed on Euronext Paris.

What does the CAC 40 represent?

The CAC 40 represents the performance of the 40 biggest and most actively traded companies on the Euronext Paris market. These are not only sizable but also among some of the most significant firms listed.

How is the CAC 40 calculated?

The CAC 40 is calculated by using a method that adjusts for free-float market capitalization; the CAC 40 considers variables such as the total number of shares issued by constituent companies, their share prices, and factors like free float and cap. This calculation approach is designed to accurately reflect the French stock market’s performance.

What are the benefits of investing in the CAC 40?

The benefit of investing in CAC 40 is that you gain access to a large part of the market capitalization of French stocks. Participating in the CAC 40 allows investors to tap into a varied collection of the largest corporations in France. This approach is advantageous for those looking to engage with the French market while avoiding the need to pick out specific stocks one by one.

What are the main sectors in the CAC 40?

The main sectors in the CAC 40 are Financial Services, Industrials, Basic Materials, Energy, Healthcare, Technology, Consumer Cyclical and Defensive sectors. It also includes Communication Services along with Real Estate and utilities.

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