The Complete History of the SPY

by on July 25, 2013 | Updated April 21, 2014 | ETFs Mentioned:

The S&P 500 SPDR (SPY, A) is the oldest and best-known exchange-traded fund. Here’s a quick primer on the history of SPY, by the numbers:

Vital Stats

Below are some stats that put SPY into perspective:

  • Oldest U.S.-listed ETF (launched 1993)
  • Largest U.S. listed ETF ($174.1 billion in AUM)
  • Most Heavily Traded U.S. listed ETF (ADV of 108.5 million shares)

Year by Year

Between its first full year of trading in 1994 and 2013, SPY has turned in 16 positive annual performances and lost ground in four years:

Combined together, that translates into an aggregate performance of about 520% (adjusted for dividends and splits) between inception and December 31, 2013:

Best and Worst Runs

Though not as volatile as many other equity ETFs, SPY has experienced some big swings over the years:

Visualized another way, here’s a look at the daily performance of SPY since its inception (note the significant increase in volatility throughout 2008 and 2009):

Daily Change SPY

Here’s yet another way to look at the daily historical volatility of SPY:

To put the volatility of the recent recession and recovery in perspective, here’s that same chart for 2008 and 2009 only:

Of the 29 sessions in which SPY has moved by 5% or more, here’s the chronological breakdown:

Over one week (five session) periods, SPY has gained as much as 19.4% and lost as much as 19.8% of its value:

Here’s a look at SPY’s biggest swings over a 10-session period of time:

Fun Facts

  • With $158.1 billion in assets, SPY represents about 11.6% of the total ETF universe (Tweet this!).
  • Since inception, more than 424 billion shares of SPY have been traded (Tweet this!).
  • Approximately 108.5 million shares, or 11.4% of total shares outstanding, trade hands every day (Tweet this!).

Dividend History

Here’s a look at every dividend SPY has paid since its launch, as well as the yield based on the stock price at the time:


SPY charges an annual management fee of 0.09%, making it one of the cheapest ETFs out there. With assets of $174.1 billion, that means SPY generates about $156 million annually, or about $17,875 every hour.

[For more ETF analysis, make sure to sign up for ourĀ free ETF newsletter]

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.