How to find the S&P 500's historical price-earnings ratio

— -- Q: Standard & Poor's seems to have changed its website since a previous Ask Matt gave directions on how to find the S&P 500's price-earnings ratio (P-E ratio). Could you update the steps on how to do this?

A: Many Ask Matt readers want to know how to find the price-to-earnings ratio, or P-E, for the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index.

The P-E ratio is a useful tool to determine how expensive the stock market is. The previous column you mention, which explains what the P-E ratio is in more detail, is available here.

And you're right. Since the column appeared in 2007, S&P has changed its website a bit. Some of the steps are the same, but things have changed slightly. Here's how to get the data now:

1. Visit

2. Click on the United States link on the left-hand side of the page.

3. Click on the S&P 500 link below where it says "Major Indices" in the middle of the page.

4. Make sure the "Data" tab is selected and is highlighted in white. This is the default, so you probably won't need to change anything.

5. Click on the Earnings link.

6. Scroll down and click on the "S&P 500 Historical Average Price to Earnings Ratio" link.

You will then be prompted to open a spreadsheet on your computer. Click the Open button and the data will appear on your screen.

Matt Krantz is a financial markets reporter at USA TODAY and author of Investing Online for Dummies. He answers a different reader question every weekday in his Ask Matt column at To submit a question, e-mail Matt at Click here to see previous Ask Matt columns.