Beta A measure of risk commonly used to compare the volatility of mutual funds or stocks to the overall market. The S&P 500 Index is the base for calculating beta and carries a value of 1. Securities with betas below 1 are less risky than the market as a whole. Betas above 1 are more risky. A beta of 1.3 is 30% more volatile than the S&P 500. Betas with negative values are inversely related to the S&P 500. Note: The beta of precious metals can be low but these funds have high price volatility. You cannot compare the beta of bond funds against the beta of equity funds, because the bond fund beta is calculated using the Shearson Long Bond Index rather than the S&P 500 Index.
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