A measure of systematic risk given to a security or portfolio, beta measures the volatility of a given financial instrument in comparison to the market as a whole. Often used in financial analysis, beta helps determine an asset’s expected return based off the capital asset pricing model.
Represented by a low-value number, a beta of 1 indicates that a particular asset moves in perfect unison with the market. Any variation greater than 1 proves that an asset is more volatile than the market, and anything less shows that it is less volatile. Negative numbers may be represented as well, showing that a particular asset class may move inversely with the market.