Seven Popular ETF Tickers Every Investor Should Know

by on May 4, 2009 | Updated May 14, 2009

Everyone recognizes the “celebrity stock tickers”: GOOG, MSFT, F, JNJ. These are the stocks that are in the news all the time. The world of ETFs has its own well-known tickers, which get above-average attention on trading Web sites, on Stocktwits, and on financial TV programs. Here are seven popular ETFs everyone should know.

  • – SPDR S&P 500: SPY tracks the S&P 500. This ETF is important for two reasons: it’s the original ETF issuance, and it also has the largest total assets of any ETF at the present time.
  • QQQQ – PowerShares QQQ: QQQQ tracks the Nasdaq-100, which includes 100 of the largest companies listed on The Nasdaq. This index is technology-heavy.
  • DIA – DIAMONDS Trust: DIA tracks the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is the venerable index of 30 blue chip stocks selected by The Wall Street Journal; while not necessarily a good proxy for the entire U.S. equities market, it’s the most discussed index in the media.
  • VTI – Vanguard Total Stock Market: VTI tracks the Wilshire 5000 broad market index, which is a broader index than the S&P 500, Dow Jones, or Nasdaq-100. If you want to buy the “entire U.S. stock market”, VTI is a popular choice.
  • AGG – iShares Lehman Aggregate Bond Fund: AGG is designed to replicate the most popular bond index, the Lehman Aggregate. Bond ETFs became a popular buy when equities tanked.
  • GLD – SPDR Gold Shares: GLD tracks the performance of the price of gold bullion. Gold ETFs can see a large inflow of assets in times of great market uncertainty.
  • TIP – iShares TIPS Bond Fund: TIP tracks the inflation-protected sector of the U.S. Treasury market as defined by the Barclays Capital U.S. TIPS index. When inflation or deflation is in the news, so are TIPS, and so is TIP.

As ETFs achieve more popularity, and more new ETFs are issued, the list of widely-recognized ETF tickers will grow. I could have made this list longer, and included SLV for instance, but I had to draw the line somewhere! In any case, if you’re new to trading or investing in ETFs, this list is a good place to start.