Stock exchanges - statistics & facts

Stock exchanges worldwide provide the infrastructure and technology to enable the public trade of financial products. The most prominent traded products are equity shares – also called stocks- in the ownership of companies listed on the stock market. The U.S. boasts the most developed stock markets with thousands of domestic and foreign companies listed on its exchanges. One of the most common indicators to compare stock exchanges and their performance is the combined market capitalization of all listed companies, which is the share price of a company multiplied by the total number of shares issued. U.S.-based stock exchanges host the most valuable companies worldwide, and are therefore the largest in terms of market capitalization. Younger stock exchanges, however, like the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange have been growing fast in recent years.

Tracking stock markets’ developments

With larger stock markets recording millions of transactions per day, the question arises of how to track stock market developments. Generally, this is achieved via a stock market index, which follows the price development of a group of financial assets traded on an exchange from a single point in time via a single aggregated value. There are several indexes in the world, some very broad and inclusive, while others are focused on specific sectors or asset classes. For instance, the S&P 500 tracks the market capitalization of the 500 largest companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. Major local stock market indices include the FTSE 100, which tracks the performance of the largest 100 UK companies; the Nikkei, comprised of 225 selected major Japanese companies; and the Hang Seng, covering the 50 largest companies on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, among others. Looking at broader indices, perhaps among the most important are the MSCI World, which includes 1,583 companies across 23 developed economies, and the and the EURO STOXX 50, tracking the performance of the 50 leading companies listed in the eurozone and representing all major industries. All these indexes are considered bellwethers for the corresponding national economy or sector.

Companies’ launch on the stock market: Initial Public Offerings (IPOs)

Initial public offerings (IPOs) are the launch of privately held companies on the stock market. Companies getting listed on stock exchanges allow investors to purchase shares of their ownership. IPOs represent therefore a huge opportunity for raising equity capital and to increase brand visibility awareness. Among the most notable and valuable stock market launches worldwide, Saudi Aramco’s IPO in 2019 was worth nearly 26 billion U.S. dollars and was the largest ever. Companies can decide to go public also in their domestic market or abroad, as long as they fulfil the standards set by local authorities. Most organizations, however, tend to launch in their national stock exchanges, with only a minority of stock exchanges attracting foreign companies.

Key insights

Largest stock exchanges in Americas by market cap
Largest stock exchanges in the Asia Pacific region by market cap
Shanghai Stock Exchange
Largest stock exchange in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Leading stock exchanges

Initial public offerings (IPOs)

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