Industry Segments Directory

 

NASD adopts the internationally recognised Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB).

"The Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB) is a definitive system categorizing over 70,000 companies and 75,000 securities worldwide, enabling the comparison of companies across four levels of classification and national boundaries. The ICB system is supported by the ICB Database, an unrivalled data source for global sector analysis, which is maintained by FTSE International Limited."

For more information on the Benchmark please visit: http://www.icbenchmark.com/


Industry Classifications

For a list of all the classified industry's subsector please click here

A category of stocks that accounts for companies involved with the discovery, development and processing of raw materials. The basic materials sector includes the mining and refining of metals, chemical producers and forestry products

The basic materials sector is sensitive to changes in the business cycle. Because the sector supplies materials for construction, it depends on a strong economy. This sector is also sensitive to supply and demand fluctuations because the price of raw materials, such as gold or other metals, is largely demand driven.

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Products that are purchased for consumption by the average consumer. Alternatively called final goods, consumer goods are the end result of production and manufacturing and are what a consumer will see on the store shelf. Clothing, food, automobiles and jewelry are all examples of consumer goods. Basic materials such as copper are not considered consumer goods because they must be transformed into usable products.

 

The measurement of consumer goods sales is important in the assessment of gross domestic product and in determining the health of the overall economy. Demand for consumer goods indicates whether consumers are willing to part with cash. Items are only counted as consumer goods once - if they are resold, they will not be included in economic calculations.

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A sector of the economy that consists of businesses that sell nonessential goods and services. Companies in this sector include retailers, media companies, consumer services companies, consumer durables and apparel companies, and automobiles and components companies.

 

It is possible to invest in all the consumer discretionary companies at once by purchasing shares of a consumer discretionary mutual fund or exchange-traded fund such as Vanguard's Consumer Discretionary ETF. This sector performs better when the economy is doing well. Consumer discretionary is the opposite of consumer staples, which consists of businesses that sell necessities like food and drugs.

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A business entity that engages in the exploration, production, refinement and distribution of oil and gas. Given the high entry costs relating to many oil and gas industry operations, many of the world's largest oil and gas companies, like Chevron Corporation and Exxon Mobile, are integrated. Typically, integrated companies divide their various operations into categories: upstream, which includes all exploration and production endeavors, and downstream, which is confined to refinement and marketing activities.

Because integrated oil and gas companies are involved in so many facets of the fossil fuel industry, often their business bottom lines can be counterintuitive. For example, during times of rising crude prices, an integrated oil and gas company may actually have lower profit margins than a non-integrated rival as a result of having greater downstream than upstream capability, or vice-versa.

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A category of stocks relating to the research, development and/or distribution of technologically based goods and services. This sector contains businesses revolving around the manufacturing of electronics, creation of software, computers or products and services relating to information technology.

The technology sector offers a wide arrange of products and services for both customers and other businesses. Consumer goods like personal computers, stereos and televisions are continually improved and upgraded, offering the latest technology to all users. Businesses receive information and services from software and database systems, which allow the companies to make strategic business decisions.

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Think of telecommunications as the world's biggest machine. Strung together by complex networks, telephones, mobile phones and internet-linked PCs, the global system touches nearly all of us. It allows us to speak, share thoughts and do business with nearly anyone, regardless of where in the world they might be. Telecom operating companies make all this happen.

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A category of stocks containing firms that provide financial services to commercial and retail customers. This sector includes banks, investment funds, insurance companies and real estate.

 

Financial services perform best in low interest rate environments. A large portion of this sector generates revenue from mortgages and loans, which gain value as interest rates drop. Furthermore, when the business cycle is in an upswing, the financial sector benefits from additional investments. Improved economic conditions usually lead to more capital projects and increased personal investing. New projects require financing, which usually leads to a larger number of loans.

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The health care industry, or medical industry, is an aggregation of sectors within the economic system that provides goods and services to treat patients with curative, preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative care. The modern health care industry is divided into many sectors and depends on interdisciplinary teams of trained professionals and paraprofessionals to meet health needs of individuals and populations.

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A category of stocks that relate to producing goods used in construction and manufacturing. This sector includes companies involved with aerospace and defense, industrial machinery, tools, lumber production, construction, cement and metal fabrication.

Performance in the industrial goods sector is largely driven by supply and demand for building construction - residential, commercial and industrial - as well as the demand for manufactured products. When the economy contracts and consumers save more and spend less, activity in this sector drops because companies will postpone expansion and produce fewer goods. The performance of the industrial goods sector closely follows the performance of the S&P 500.

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A category of stocks for utilities such as gas and power. The utilities sector contains companies such as electric, gas and water firms and integrated providers.

 

Because utilities require significant infrastructure, these firms often carry large amounts of debt. With a high debt load, utilities companies become sensitive to changes in the interest rate. As interest rates rise or drop, the debt payments will increase or decrease. The utilities sector performs best when interest rates are falling or remain low.

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