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Financial markets in the U.S. - statistics & facts

In finance, financial markets encompass the part of the free market economic system in which people and entities can trade securities, commodities, currencies, and other financial assets with minimal interference. The latter condition is intended to ensure the transaction matches supply and demand, with the ultimate goal of achieving an efficient allocation of resources. As by far the world’s largest economy by gross domestic product, the United States is home to many of the world’s largest financial markets. For example, the United States has by far the largest share of the world stock markets, being home to over half the total value of global.

Which are the main stock markets in the United States?

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Nasdaq are by far the world’s largest stock exchanges by total market capitalization. However, shares are not the only things traded at exchanges like the NYSE and Nasdaq, with the same infrastructure also being used to trade other financial securities such as ‘derivatives’. Derivatives get their name as they are based on an existing financial asset, but do not include the asset itself. For example, options and futures are contracts which provide the ability to purchase a financial asset in the future for an agreed price – meaning the purchase of the contract does not include the purchasing the asset itself. For trade in derivatives, the largest exchange in U.S. is actually the Chicago Board Options exchange, with the Miami International Exchange also being a major player. Globally, the largest derivatives exchanges are in India and Brazil – although a large portion of derivatives are purchased off exchange (‘over the counter’), meaning this does not reflect the overall size of the country’s derivatives market.

What other products are traded on financial markets?

Aside from company shares and derivatives, the other two main products traded on financial markets are currencies and bonds. While foreign currencies are often traded to facilitate the purchase of goods or services from a foreign country, many investors also purchase currencies with the expectation they will increase in value, thus returning a profit for the investor. The U.S. dollar is the most traded international currency. Bonds, on the other hand, are a form of debt taken on by companies or governments where they agree to pay bond-holders an agreed periodical interest payment for a fixed period, after which the amount is repaid in full. Unlike traditional loans, once a bond is issued the bondholder can sell it on to another investor. U.S. treasury securities are the most common type of bond in the global economy.

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