Demystifying BSE Sensex Trading for Traders

The BSE Sensex is one of the most popular stock market indices in India that tracks the performance of 30 major stocks trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). It represents the broader Indian stock market and is used by traders for analyzing overall market sentiment and performance. However, for an average Indian trader or investor, the Sensex often seems complicated and difficult to comprehend. Through this article, we attempt to demystify BSE intraday trading in simple terms for retail participants.

Getting to Know the BSE Sensex

The Sensex or S&P BSE SENSEX is the benchmark index of the BSE, Asia’s oldest stock exchange. It consists of 30 well-established and financially sound companies listed on the BSE, covering major sectors of the Indian economy. The index reflects the health and performance of the overall Indian stock markets.

The Sensex was launched in 1986 with a base value of 100. Over the last few decades, it has grown substantially along with the rapid growth witnessed in the Indian economy and stock markets. As of January 2023, the Sensex hovers around 60,000 points, representing a CAGR of over 11% since its inception. This exemplifies the wealth creation potential of Indian equities for long term investors.

How is the BSE Sensex Calculated? 

The Sensex is calculated using a free float market capitalization weighted methodology. What does this mean? Let’s break this down:

1. Free Float Market Capitalization: It refers to the market value of only those shares that are readily available for trading in the market. The shares held by promoters, governments etc. are excluded.  

2. Weighted Average: Companies are weighted based on their free float market cap i.e. large cap stocks have a higher weightage compared to smaller companies.

The total market cap of all 30 constituents is divided by an initial base value to calculate the index. With time, the market caps change based on stock prices – thereby changing the Sensex value. The base year and value are periodically adjusted for global comparability and continuity.

Decoding Index Price and Points

Index price and points are often used interchangeably but represent different things:

Price: The Sensex ‘Price’ denotes the real-time value of the index at any given point in time. For example, a price of 60,800 means the cumulative market value of the 30 shares is currently 60,800, compared to the base value.

Points: ‘Points’ simply refer to the number quoted for the index. So if the Sensex is said to be ‘Up 100 Points’, it means the value has risen by 100 points compared to the previous day’s close. Points help traders easily gauge intraday or periodic rises/falls.

Understanding Sensex Trading

You cannot directly buy or sell the Sensex since it is just an index that measures stock performance. But you can trade the constituent stocks or take exposure through index-based derivatives and funds. Here are some ways how:

  1. Buy/Sell Constituent Stocks: Investors can simply buy or sell shares of companies that constitute the Sensex through a Demat account. Your returns are based on individual stock performance.

  2. Index Funds/ETFs: These mutual funds or ETFs track the Sensex and provide returns mirroring index performance. It allows exposure to the wider market via a single instrument.

  3. Derivatives: Index futures & options allow you to take leveraged exposures to Sensex without owning underlying shares. You can hedge portfolios or implement trading strategies using indices derivatives.

In short, the Sensex serves as a broad gauge of the overall market. You have multiple avenues to trade based on Sensex price movements over various durations.

Factors Impacting the BSE Sensex

As a market barometer, the BSE Sensex moves in reaction to various domestic and global influences. Here are some key drivers:

  • India’s Economic Outlook: Important information that affects investor sentiment includes GDP growth, industrial output, and business outlooks that show companies’ potential for future profits. A bright future boosts the Sensex.

  • Government Policies: Index values are positively impacted by business-friendly changes, liberalization policies, and tax breaks that assist component businesses or the overall economy.

  • Liquidity Conditions: The inflow of both domestic and international liquidity into the Indian equities markets supports the buying of the Sensex. Monetary policies that are accommodating also raise indices.

  • Corporate Earnings: Since index businesses account for 65% of the market capitalization, the direction of the market and general investor confidence are strongly impacted by their quarterly financial results.

  • Global Cues: Events that affect foreign flows, such as changes in oil prices, inflation, or US Fed policies, typically have an effect on developing market indices like the Sensex.

Thus, keep a watchful eye out for elements that may contribute to index volatility or long-term trends.

Advantages of Trading the Sensex

There are several benefits to trading the Sensex through its 30 constituent equities or index-based securities.

Portfolio Diversification: With 30 stocks included in each of the major sectors, the Sensex gives you access to a sizable percentage of the Indian market through a single index.

Minimal Research: It is simpler to monitor the drivers of a single index than it is to examine hundreds of stocks. It provides an economical and labor-saving means of entering larger markets. 

Lower Risk: The Sensex is less susceptible to sharp swings because its carefully selected constituents are well-established, mature businesses with solid foundations.

Higher Liquidity: Index heavyweights are actively traded stocks with ample liquidity for ease of trading. This makes order execution convenient.

In conclusion, trading the diversified bluechip Sensex is simpler and less risky than trading individual mid or small-cap stocks. By mirroring the index, you can benefit from collective growth in India Inc.

Tips for Trading the BSE Sensex

If you wish to trade the Sensex successfully, do keep in mind these handy tips:

  1. Employ a long term approach instead of short term speculation, to benefit from India’s earnings potential. 

  2. Maintain portfolio diversification instead of concentrating risk on only a few stocks. The index itself covers diverse sectors.

  3. Use derivatives like index futures and options to implement smart hedge-based strategies to minimize risk.

  4. Keep sufficient trading capital handy to absorb interim volatility; avoid extreme leverage.

  5. Stay updated on news, policies, fundamentals that impact the broader economy and market outlook.

  6. Book profits at sensible levels instead of getting greedy anticipating further rises.

By prudently trading the BSE Sensex over the long run, retail investors can aim to generate wealth aligned to India’s equity growth story!


We have simplified the apparent complexities surrounding the BSE Sensex trading through this handy guide for new Indian traders. Whether you wish to ride India’s economic progress or tap into the potential of leading Indian companies, the Sensex serves as the pulse of the overall stock markets. So develop your understanding, assess your risk appetite, employ prudent capital and adopt a disciplined approach to position yourself for sustainable wealth creation.

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