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What is the CAC? | AvaTrade Tutorial

The CAC 40 is the benchmark French stock market index. The index takes the temperature of the French economy, the world’s fifth largest economy, by representing the 40 most significant stocks among th…

CAC 40 Stock Market Index

Introducing the CAC 40, managed by the Euronext exchange group the CAC it is known as the benchmark index for the Paris Stock Exchange.  Aptly named, the CAC-40 (CAC quarante) is a free floating market capitalisation index, which reports the performance of 40 of the most popular traded shares listed on the Euronext Paris exchange, and the most widely used indicator of the French stocks trading market.

CAC History

‘Compagnie des Agents de Change’ is what ‘CAC’ stood for when the group originally operated in the Paris Stock Exchange in 1801. With the introduction of the Stock Market Reform Act of January 1988, the Compagnie des Agents de Change was abolished and the ‘Société des Bourses Françaises’ was incorporated as a limited company. The CAC index however, remained the nickname with an additional 40 listed companies that later made up the name we know today as, the CAC 40, and was later dubbed ‘Cotation Assistée en Continu’.

In January 1988, the index experienced an all-time low of 893.82. September of 2000 saw an enormous recovery, hitting a record breaking high of 6922.33 for the index.

The CAC family is made up of Frances most profitable companies, which make up total market capitalisation of €1.1 trillion. The most important companies that are included are L’Oreal, BNP Paribas, AXA, Danone, Orange, Sanofi, Total, L’VMH, Airbus Group and Vinci, that range in market capitalisations from €5 billion to €105 billion.

CAC 40 Index composition

‘Le Conseil Scientifique’ is the committee that carries out the selection and choice of the members who are included in the CAC 40 stocks. Involved in the council’s decision making process is the French market regulator AMF (Autorité des Marchés Financiers), French Treasury Department and France’s Central Bank.

To be listed with CAC the company’s stocks must meet certain criteria and trading volumes that are based on the rules of the Euronext Paris Exchange (Parise Bourse), in addition, the company must have their main headquarters based in France.

Market capitalisation is based on issuer shares and the minimum requirement for the free float of 15%. The CAC 40 differs in this respect from other global indices as they seek market-capitalisation where as others such as Nikkei 225 are price weighted indices.  Market-capitalisation indices are reviewed by the index committee, specifically on the third Friday of September every year.

Top 5 companies represented by CAC 40 and their market capital percentage
Companies Market capital %
Sanofi 12.19%
Total 11.96%
BNP Paribas 6.24%
LVMH 5.02%
Air Liquide 4.08%

The CAC Family of Indices

The CAC 40 is not the only index used to measure the performance of French stocks. The CAC 40 index is actually at the head of a larger group, or family, of French stock indices. Next in line below the CAC 40 is the CAC Next 20, which naturally represents the 20 next largest (positions 41-60) French companies by market cap.

Then there is a CAC Large 60 Index, which combines the prior two indices and gives a reading on the 60 largest French companies by market cap. Next in the hierarchy is the CAC Mid 60, which lists the 60 largest French companies by market cap that do not qualify for the CAC Large 60. In essence it is composed of the 61st to 120th largest French companies. And the CAC Large 60 is combined with the CAC Mid 60 to create the SBF-120.

After this all the remaining companies that don’t qualify for inclusion in any of the previously mentioned indices are included in the CAC Small Index. We aren’t done yet however, because the CAC Small is then combined with the CAC Mid 60 to create the CAC Mid & Small. And last of all the CAC All-Tradable combines all of the French companies that have been included in any of the CAC indices.

In addition to all of the indices in the CAC family there are some other variations on the CAC 40 that have been created to measure the performance of the French stock market in different ways. The CAC 40 EW is an equally weighted version of the CAC 40 that was created in 2009. It includes the same 40 companies as the original CAC 40, but each of the stocks are given a 2.6% weighting in the index. And finally, there is the CAC 40 EXT which is calculated based on the value of futures contracts being traded on the Euronext Exchange.

Factors that influence the overall the CAC 40 price

The main driver behind the price of an individual stock is supply and demand, economical changes and trends, global and national events. However, changes within the country would be the most influential on that country’s indices.

UK Investors are most likely to pay more for the stock if the earning potential is strong and profits are consistent. The industry that the company is directly involved in, distributing products or services, needs to have a healthy demand appetite. While the current company performance is important, future prospects are looked at in a more serious manner, as investments are generally done for future gains.

A broad index price usually moves smoother than that of individual shares or sector-specific indices. Meaning, investors can benefit from diversification due to the amount of companies listed under the CAC 40. UK Traders are able to then own a few stocks on a major index with committing only a small amount of financial capital.

Why trade CAC 40 indices

A stock index embodies a country’s top companies shares from a particular exchange. In this case the CAC 40 (CAC quarante) represents 40 of the largest companies traded on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange. As France is one of the leading economies in Europe, the CAC is the strongest indicator of economic performance.

There are many advantages to trading indices, they are made up of several stocks and there is constant market movement in each stock. This can contribute to their share price being relatively volatile, and such occurrences can happen when there is a major economic or political event that will affect the country as a whole. They are more liquid than equities for instance. Traders are still exposed to market risk, however, with CAC 40 CFD trading at a much lower level, as they never own the actual asset and the investment can be leveraged up to 400 times. Traders can place a buy on the CAC 40 and if the price goes up before they intend to sell, the traders will earn the price difference, if the price goes down, then they will sustain losses.

CAC Trading information

  • CAC index trading hours are Monday to Friday 6:01 – 19:59 (GMT)
  • The CAC moves in increments of 0.50
  • The margin requirement 2%
  • Leverage is
  • The minimum trade is 1
  • The CAC index is priced in Euro

Trade CAC 40 with AvaTrade

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How to Start Trading on the CAC-40

Getting started with trading on the CAC 40 is no difficult task. Simply open an account here at AvaTrade UK and you can place your first trade. However, if you’d like to trade on the CAC 40 successfully there are a few things to take into consideration first. As the fifth largest stock market in the world the Euronext Paris Exchange is extremely complex and trading on its individual components or on the entire CAC 40 index can be a high-risk investing scenario. Those looking to trade on the CAC 40 need some extensive knowledge of the French economy and political scene, otherwise they may want to consider whether trading this market is the right decision.

After all, the overall performance of any index is going to be dependent on a number of factors, both domestic and international, and the CAC 40 is no exception to this rule. Because the CAC 40 includes components that may not be French companies, and because the European economies are so intertwined, the CAC 40 is often considered an indicator of the broader European economy. Some of the factors to take into consideration before trading the CAC 40 include the GDP of France and its trading partners, employment and unemployment changes, changes in interest rates, political events such as elections, and many other economic data points.

In Conclusion

As a stock index that represents not only 80% of the French economy, but also a good portion of the overall European economy, the CAC 40 is not only an important gauge of the health of these economies, it can also provide traders with excellent opportunities for investment. All the usual professional trading strategies used in other markets can also be applied to trading the CAC 40.

Just try to be sure that you have a good grasp of French politics and the economy, and knowledge of the broader euro zone economy as well if you expect to do well in your CAC 40 trades.

CAC-40 Trading Main FAQs

  • What is the CAC 40?
    The CAC 40 is a capitalization weighted index of the 40 most significant values among the top 100 market caps on the Euronext Paris exchange. It is considered to be an excellent barometer of the French stock market and economy. The index includes such household names as L’Oreal and Renault, as well as other French giants such as Airbus and Carrefour. The CAC 40 is one of the primary national indices of the cross-border Euronext exchange.
  • Should I trade the CAC 40?
    As a major industrial nation’s benchmark stock exchange it certainly makes sense to trade the CAC 40. It can be an excellent way to speculate on the strength of the French economy. It is also a good way to speculate on the broader global economy because of the heavy concentration of luxury brands and consumer goods companies. It can also be good to have knowledge of the CAC 40 when there are important national events occurring in France as the CAC 40 can be very strongly impacted by news.
  • What’s the best strategy to trade the CAC 40?
    The best strategy for trading the CAC 40 will depend on the trader and the amount of time they have to devote to the market. Both scalping and day trading require the trader to be fully involved in the trade all day long, but swing trading can be done with a few hours over the weekend and a daily assessment of any upcoming data releases and a review of the major chart indicators and any news affecting the components of the CAC 40.