Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipts
Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipts (SPDRS, with symbol SPY), commonly referred to as "Spiders," is the world's first and largest exchange traded fund (ETF), in terms of assets under management. As of January 2013, it also was the most traded US-listed equity.
Created to track the value of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, SPY was launched on the American Stock Exchange on January 29, 1993. The fund grew from $461.5 million assets under management in 1993 to more than $125 billion in January 2013, according to Index Universe, which tracks ETFs.
One SPDR unit is valued at about one-tenth of the value of the S&P 500. Dividends are distributed quarterly, and are based on the accumulated stock dividends held in trust, less any expenses of the trust.
The creation of SPY is credited to Nate Most, attorney Kathleen Moriarty and Jim Ross who worked with the team from State Street Global Advisors and Cliff Weber and Steven Bloom from AMEX, among others.  The product was the first of its kind, in that no one previously had tried to build a physically backed vehicle that could be traded in real time, closely following the value of the index.
Ross told ETF Trends in an interview about the 20th anniversary of SPY,that "ETFs have changed the way stocks trade and changed the way people look at the market and diversification.”
Scope of Products
Other SPDRs track domestic and international stock indexes (such as Dow Jones Wilshire indexes) or particular industry groups or asset classes. More specifically, offerings can be viewed by market cap, style, sector/industry, specialty (e.g., real estate), international focus, region, and fixed income (as well as pricing and performance).
The SPDR Trust, Series 1, known as the Spiders is structured as a unit investment trust, but Select Sector SPDRs that track various sector indexes by carving up the S&P 500 Index into separate industry groups are open-ended funds.
In May of 2013, the Boston Options Exchange (BOX) was approved by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission to trade a jumbo version of the SPDR S&P 500 Exchange Trade Fund ("Jumbo SPY Options"). "Jumbo SPY Options are a new options contract overlying 1,000 SPY ETF shares per contract, as compared to 100 shares per contract for standard options." Trading on Jumbo SPY is expected to begin on May 10, 2013.
Where Are SPYDRs Traded
Spiders were first listed on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol SPY and are now traded only on NYSEArca. Options on SPDRs are offered for trading on several U.S. options exchanges.
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- "State Street Enhances Its ETF Offering with Six New Emerging Markets ETFs". BNET.
- SPY@20: First US ETF Changed Investing. Index Universe.
- SPY@20: You've Come A Long Way Baby. Index Universe.
- SPDR S&P 500 ETF ‘Changed the Way Stocks Trade’. ETF Trends.
- First US ETF celebrates 20th birthday. FT.
- NYSE Assembles Early ETF Hands for 20th Anniversary. Barron's.
- BOX Offers Jumbo SPY (PDF). Boston Options Exchange.