Last modified on 26 September 2006, at 14:29

Investing/Insurances

Praveen Padalia stock exchange

organized market for the trading of stocks and bonds (see bond ; stock ). Such markets were originally open to all, but at present only members of the owning association may buy and sell directly. Members, or stock brokers , buy and sell for themselves or for others, charging commissions for their services. A stock may be bought or sold only if it is listed on an exchange, and it may not be listed unless it meets certain requirements set by the exchange's board of governors. There are stock exchanges in all important financial centers of the world; the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE, in nearly continuous operation since 1792), which had a trading volume of $7.3 trillion in 1998, is the largest in the world. Tokyo, London, and Frankfurt also have major facilities, and Euronext, an inter-European exchange combining facilities in Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, and other cities, is also significant. By providing a centralized, ready market for the exchange of securities, stock exchanges greatly facilitate the financing of business through flotation of stocks and bonds. However, speculation in stocks can sometimes accentuate the instability of an economy. The reality of the Great Depression was emphasized by the stock market crash in 1929. The interstate sale of securities and certain stock exchange practices in the United States are regulated by federal laws administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission . Today, a large percentage of stocks are traded through such over-the-counter organizations as Nasdaq (National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotations) and its European equivalent, Nasdaq Europe (formerly Easdaq). Through these organizations, many securities not listed on a major stock exchange may be traded by dealers using computer and telecommunications technology; in 1994, Nasdaq, on which many computer and other high-technology stocks are traded, surpassed the NYSE in annual share volume. After the deregulation of the British securities market in 1986, the London Stock Exchange saw a decline in business due to a new computerized market similar to Nasdaq.

Computer-driven trade has significantly affected the stock exchange. Computer and telecommunications technology, besides opening a wide market in over the counter dealings, has also given rise to trading on an international level. Personal computers and modems allow trading to occur around the clock (after-hours NYSE and Nasdaq trading began in 1999), and the securities trading on one major stock exchange can now significantly affect the trading on others. Many contend that the traditional manner of trading will eventually become obsolete. Technology also now allows for “day trading,” a high-risk business in which numerous computerized trades are made during a single day, with large gains (and large losses) possible.