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Which major US market indexes (Dow/DJIA, S&P 500, NASDAQ) include returns from reinvested dividends, and which don't?

Where can "total return" information be found for each index that doesn't include reinvested dividends?

Are the major exchange-traded funds (ETFs) corresponding to those indexes (DIA, SPY, QQQQ), plus their reinvested dividends, good enough proxies for the total returns of those indexes, when simply wanting to compare one's own portfolio performance to an index?

(Note: The above questions came up based on comments to one answer at this other question.)

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.INX (the S&P 500 index itself) does not include reinvested dividens. You can figure total return by going to Yahoo finance, historical data. Choose the start year, and end year. You should find that data for SPY (going back to 1993) will show an adjusted close, and takes dividends into account. This isn't perfect as SPY has a .09% expense ratio, but it's better than just the S&P index.

One of the more popular Dow ETF is DIA, this will let you similarly track the Dow while accounting for dividends.

  • This is related to my other question, comparing my return against the indexes, which I calculated incorrectly because I wasn't including dividends. Thanks for the info. Along with SPY, what are the best ETFs / mutual funds to compare against for the other indexes? – Shawaron Feb 19 '10 at 16:46
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While the S&P500 is not a total return index, there is an official total return S&P500 that includes reinvested dividends and which is typically used for benchmarking. For a long time it was not available for free, but it can currently be found on yahoo finance using the ticker ^SP500TR.

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