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How To Use IBD's Big Picture, Market Pulse And Find Winners

The Big Picture has long ranked as IBD's most popular daily column.

That's because it aims to do more than just give a wrap-up of the day's stock market action.

What's the extra content? Well, the column provides a point of view on the general market's direction and mentions leading growth stocks that investors might want to put on their watch lists.

This key additional information — IBD's market outlook and leaders making moves — gets highlighted in the Market Pulse table that appears next to each Big Picture.

There are only three possibilities for the market outlook. IBD-style investors should think of them as a green light, a yellow or caution light and a red light. The three options are: market in confirmed uptrend, uptrend under pressure and market in correction.

Paying attention to the outlook helps you stay in sync with the general market's trend. That's what you want to do in following IBD's investing strategy. After all, the M in CAN SLIM stands for "Market Direction.

In analyzing the general market, The Big Picture lately has paid most attention to the S&P 500, a key benchmark index, and the Nasdaq, a tech- and growth-oriented index.

In addition, the column occasionally mentions the Dow Jones industrial average, which has just 30 mature stocks but also the public's attention. You'll probably sometimes see references to the NYSE composite or a small-cap index, too, such as the S&P 600 or the Russell 2000.

Moving to the focus on leading stocks: You'll see the stocks noted in The Big Picture and featured in the Market Pulse under the "Leaders up in " and "Leaders down in volume" categories.

These stocks have been hand-picked by IBD staff as notable names. So you could find good watch-list candidates there, just like you might scour the IBD 50, Big Cap 20 or other IBD features for investing ideas.

The graphic accompanying this column points out a few leading stocks mentioned lately in the Market Pulse table that have performed well.

Even stocks listed as "Leaders down in volume" are worth studying. Sometimes they're just pulling back moderately after a long advance, rather than cratering. They might form new bases or find support at the 10-week moving average.