bellwether was our Word of the Day on 06/10/2015. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of bellwether in a Sentence
She is a bellwether of fashion.
High-tech bellwethers led the decline in the stock market.
a county that is a bellwether in national elections
Recent Examples of bellwether from the Web
Shane Keyser The Kansas City Star On Election Day the campaign will deploy workers to monitor turnout at bellwether polling places.
Shipping deals are often seen as a bellwether for frothiness in market because leverage in the sector is high and bankruptcies are common.
That's understandable: The race is close and Virginia is considered a national bellwether.
Looking further ahead, traders were awaiting U.S. nonfarm payrolls, due out Friday, as a proxy for inflation and a bellwether for future Federal Reserve rates policy.
The numbers are important bellwethers for the 16-year war effort, one that has been marked by military setbacks and a Taliban militancy that has held on — and even gained ground — despite the group’s technological disadvantage.
Ghana is a bellwether for the health problems all low- and middle-income countries have to tackle.
The next year is likely to see the final defeat of ISIS and national elections that will be crucial as both bellwether and determinant of Iraq’s future course.
As the first collaboration between Amnesty and Sofar, the event serves as another bellwether for the organization on the model of engaging (mostly) young people via more organic events a fraction the size of traditional benefit stadium shows.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bellwether.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
We usually think of sheep more as followers than leaders, but in a flock one sheep must lead the way. Long ago, it was common practice for shepherds to hang a bell around the neck of one sheep in their flock, thereby designating it the lead sheep. This animal was called the bellwether, a word formed by a combination of the Middle English words belle (meaning "bell") and wether (a noun that refers to a male sheep that has been castrated). It eventually followed that bellwether would come to refer to someone who takes initiative or who actively establishes a trend that is taken up by others. This usage first appeared in English in the 13th century.
Origin and Etymology of bellwether
First Known Use: 13th centurySee Words from the same year
Financial Definition of BELLWETHER
What It Is
A bellwether is a security or indicator that signals the market's direction.
How It Works
Let's assume XYZ Company is an auto manufacturer. If XYZ Company stock typically falls before the rest of the automotive sector falls or rises before the rest of the automotive sector rises, we could consider XYZ Company a bellwether of the auto industry.
A security's bellwether status changes over time, but in the equities markets the largest, most well-established companies in an industry are often the bellwethers (the 20-year Treasury bond is considered a bond bellwether). Usually profitable and stable, most have a solid competitive position, established customer bases and solid brand loyalty. Some have even proven to be exceptionally resilient during weak economic times. These stocks also form the foundation of most major market indices -- large-cap bellwethers dominate the Dow Jones Industrials, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite.
Why It Matters
There is a connection between bellwether status and institutional ownership. Bellwether stocks often have large institutional ownership, and institutions often have tremendous influence on stock prices. But because most mutual funds engage in some form of indexing -- most commonly by benchmarking against the S&P 500 -- those investors who don't own bellwether stocks directly probably still have exposure to them through their mutual fund holdings.
Although bellwether stocks may signal things to come, they are not always the most attractive investments in their sectors. By the time a company reaches bellwether status, its market-beating growth days are usually well behind it and its enormous size makes meaningful expansion difficult to come by. Instead, investors may consider using bellwether stocks as indicators but investing in up-and-coming bellwethers that still have plenty of growth potential ahead of them.
BELLWETHER Defined for English Language Learners
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