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Stock Market Sectors Guide: 11 Official GICS Sectors Every Investor Should Know

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 9/16/2023 5 min read

If you want to thrive in the market, you need to understand its terrain. That’s where the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) sectors come in. Think of them as the 11 neighborhoods of the market, each with its own unique vibe and opportunities.

Understanding these sectors isn’t just about knowing where to find a company in the market’s directory. It’s about recognizing trends, gauging performance, and making strategic investment decisions. It’s about seeing the bigger picture.

Get ready for a deep dive into the 11 GICS sectors. From energy to healthcare, from financials to real estate, we’ll explore each sector’s unique landscape and what it means for you as a trader.

What Are Stock Market Sectors?

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Stock market sectors are like the different neighborhoods of the market city. Each sector represents a distinct part of the economy, housing companies that operate in similar industries. From energy to healthcare, these sectors offer a way to categorize the vast array of companies listed on the U.S. stock exchanges like NASDAQ.

Understanding these sectors isn’t just about knowing where to find a company in the market’s directory. It’s about recognizing trends, gauging performance, and making strategic investment decisions. It’s about seeing the bigger picture.

To get a deeper understanding of how sectors influence your investment strategy, take a look at this article on investment sectors.

What is the GICS System and Why Does it Matter?

The GICS system is like the GPS of the stock market. Developed by MSCI and S&P Dow Jones Indices, it provides a standardized classification system, grouping companies into sectors based on their primary business activity.

Why does it matter? Because it allows traders to compare apples to apples, or in this case, banks to banks. It provides a clear, consistent framework for investment research, portfolio management, and asset allocation. It’s not just a list; it’s a tool for understanding and navigating the market.

It helps you compare companies within the same sector, making your trading research more efficient. For a more detailed look at how sectors shape the stock market, check out this article on different stock sectors.

11 GICS Stock Market Sectors

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The GICS stock market sectors cover every company in the market, from retail products to basic materials and equipment manufacturers to conglomerates. There are trading purposes to this lesson — consumers ultimately decide the value of these stocks, and learning the advice and news they’re following will give you a trading edge.

The GICS provides a comprehensive view of the market landscape. But understanding the types of stocks within these sectors is equally important. To broaden your knowledge about the various types of stocks available for trading, check out this article on different types of stocks.

Energy

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The energy sector, home to companies like Chevron, is all about exploration, production, and marketing of oil, gas, and renewable energy sources. It’s the powerhouse of the market, fueling not just our cars, but our investments too.

Healthcare

The healthcare sector is where pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms, and healthcare providers reside. It’s the pulse of the market, reflecting our societal needs and advancements in medical technology.

Financials

The financials sector houses banks, insurance companies, and investment funds. It’s the market’s monetary system, a reflection of our economy’s financial health.

Materials

The materials sector includes companies involved in the discovery, development, and processing of raw materials. From mining to refining, these companies form the building blocks of the market.

Industrials

The industrials sector is the market’s production line, housing companies involved in construction, manufacturing, and transportation. It’s the engine of the market, driving economic growth and development.

Utilities

The utilities sector includes companies that provide essential services like electricity, gas, and water. It’s the market’s lifeline, providing steady, reliable returns.

Consumer Staples

The consumer staples sector is home to companies that produce essential items like food, beverages, and household goods. It’s the market’s pantry, offering stability even in turbulent times.

Consumer Discretionary

The consumer discretionary sector includes companies that sell non-essential consumer goods and services, from luxury goods to entertainment. It’s the market’s playground, often thriving when economic conditions are favorable.

Information Technology

The information technology sector houses tech giants and startups alike. It’s the market’s innovation hub, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

Communication Services

The communication services sector includes companies in the telecommunications, media, and entertainment industries. It’s the market’s voice, connecting us in an increasingly digital world.

Real Estate

The real estate sector includes companies involved in real estate development, management, and REITs. It’s the market’s foundation, reflecting trends in property values and construction activity.


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Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

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* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (205) 851-0506 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”