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Stock exchanges - statistics & facts

A stock exchange provides the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the trade of financial products between buyers and sellers. While a range of financial products are traded on stock exchanges, the most prominent are shares in the ownership of companies listed on that exchange (otherwise called equities or stocks). Based on the market capitalization of all listed companies (which is the share price of a company multiplied by the total number of shares issued), the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is the largest stock exchange operator in the world as of October 2021. At this time the second largest stock exchange operator was fellow U.S. exchange the NASDAQ, followed by the Shanghai Stock Exchange then the Euronext.

Which financial products are traded on stock exchanges?

Apart from shares, stock exchanges sell a variety of other financial products. One increasingly popular product is ‘exchange traded funds,' where ownership shares in investment funds are traded via an exchange (rather than directly through the fund provider). The benefit of this is that transaction fees are generally lower, as trades are processed by the stock exchange operator (rather than the investment fund). Another commonly traded products are bonds, which are a form of fixed term debt with regular interest payments until a set date on which the borrowed amount is repaid in full (the ‘maturity date’). Once issued by a corporation or government, bonds can be traded by investors on an exchange - which is why reason the ‘yield’ of a bond changes over time despite interest payments being fixed from the outset. Finally, there are financial derivatives, such as futures and options (both of which are contracts that lock in a future price for buying or selling a financial product or commodity). The largest derivatives exchange is located in India, while the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) handles a higher share of the derivatives trade in the U.S. than the NYSE or the NASDAQ.

How are stock market developments tracked?

With larger stock markets recording millions of transactions per day, there is the question of how to track stock market developments. Generally, this is achieved via a stock market index, which tracks the price development of a group of financial assets traded on an exchange from a single point in time via a single aggregated value. For example, the S&P 500 - considered by many to be a benchmark of the overall U.S. economy – tracks the market capitalization of the 500 largest U.S. companies. Other major stock market indices include the FTSE 100 which includes the largest 100 British companies listed on the London Stock Exchange), the Nikkei (which tracks the Tokyo Stock Exchange), and many, many more.


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