The S&P 500 is one yardstick of how the American economy is doing, specifically how business is going in the US. It is an average (a ‘weighted average’—more on that another time) of 500 of the biggest publicly traded American companies, including services you use on the regular, like Google and Amazon. The S&P 500 is an 'index' used to gauge the health and wealth of the stock market.
S&P stands for "Standard and Poor's" which was a merger of two financial report companies back in the 1940's. In 1957, they started tracking the 500 largest American companies, and it has been a useful tool ever since!
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