Stock Markets & Securities Exchanges


When a company goes public with their  Initial Public Offering (IPO) of stock, they list on one of the financial exchanges ( see Stock Markets & Securities Exchanges)  also called the "secondary market".  In the secondary market, investors deal with "registered representatives” known as stockbrokers.  These individuals must be registered with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) which represents a firm’s brokers and dealers who actually execute a customer’s order on the Exchange.  They never "buy or sell” for the customer but act on a customer’s behalf as an agent.  Stockbrokers or account executives are compensated by a brokerage commission; a fee which is charged each time a stock is bought or sold.

In the United States most investors invest in the financial markets within this country, as do many other traders around the world, since the U.S. market is the largest.  However, there are numerous financial markets around the globe.  See the following for a list of exchanges: .

The stock market is a place where stocks are bought and sold.  Stocks are listed on exchanges.  Stock markets/security markets are generic terms that people use to describe the physical locations and dealer networks on which securities are traded.  Securities are simply investments which can be stocks, bonds and mutual funds.  In recent years, with the advancement of computer technology, security markets have been moving from traditional “floors,” like the New York Stock Exchange, to electronic interfaces like NASDAQ.

In the United States the largest markets are:  The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE or NYSE Euronext);  The American Stock Exchange (AM EX) and The National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System (NASDAQ).  These three exchanges and others within the U.S. make up the "United States Stock Market".  All the exchanges in Canada, such as the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Montreal Exchange, make up the "Canadian Stock Market

United States Largest Stock/Securities Markets

  • The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE, officially The New York Stock Exchange Euronext):  This Exchange opened in 1792. In 2007 it merged with Euronext to form NYSE Euronext.  The NYSE is located at 11 Wall Street in New York City—thus, the name Wall Street has become synonymous with U.S. financial markets.  The NYSE is also referred to as the “Big Board” and "The Exchange".  Its total capitalization (value) is larger than the next four largest exchanges combined.  More than one-third of the world’s cash equities are traded on the NYSE Euronext markets.  In general, the largest and oldest companies are on the NYSE.  In January 2009 it completed its acquisition of the American Stock Exchange.  NYSE Euronext is the world’s largest equities market.  This market is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 AM till 4:00 PM (ET).  If you are ever in New York City during the exchange’s hours, you can take a tour and see the market in action (from an observation deck above the floor).  The Exchange also operates NYSE Area Equities.  This is an all-electronic trading platform.

    • Circuit Breakers:  One way the New York Stock Exchange is hoping to prevent "stop panic selling", i.e., stock market crash, such as occurred in the 1929 crash, is to implement what is called "Circuit Breakers".  These are mandatory trading time-outs if the market goes down by 10% or more. It is hoped that the pauses in trading gives traders the time to gather information and review the situation instead of just panic selling.  The trigger levels are 10%, 20% and 30%.  This can trigger anything from a one hour break in trading, depending on the time of day, to a market shut down for the balance of the day.  To learn more you may go to:

  • American Stock Exchange (AMEX):  is smaller than the NYSE and is the only other traditional/physical stock exchange in the U.S.   AMEX has also taken the lead in the introduction of new investment products such as exchange-traded funds (ETF), which was created in 1998.   AMEX was acquired in 2008 by NYSE Euronext.

  • National Association of Securities Dealers Quotation System (NASDAQ or NASDAQ OMX):  was formed in 1971.  Stocks are listed and traded electronically, versus on a physical floor such as AMEX and NYSE.  It is an association of over-the-counter brokers and dealers that establishes legal, ethical and standards of conduct for their members.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC):  stocks are traded through a network of dealers linked across the U.S. by telephones and computers.  There is no physical trading floor like NYSE. Stocks listed on OTC tend to be smaller, newer and riskier than the above mentioned exchanges.  All government and municipal bonds and most corporate bonds are traded in the OTC market.

  • Other U.S. Exchanges There are other U.S. exchanges such as:  Chicago Stock Exchanges (CSE);  Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME);  Kansas City Board of Trade;  Minneapolis Grain Exchange .

Foreign Exchanges

There are foreign exchanges in many countries around the world.  The largest capital markets are:

But there are many other markets. To find out more about international exchanges look at the World Federation of Exchanges website, a trade association of 51 exchanges around the world.

Securities & Exchange Commission

The Stock Market in the United States is monitored by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is a federal agency with a mandate to “protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.”  Companies must submit periodic reports to to the SEC, which is then provided to the public (see Stocks: Buying, Selling & Researching ).  For further information on the SEC visit their Website: