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London Stock Exchange - statistics & facts

Founded in 1571 and situated near St. Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, the London Stock Exchange (LSE) was one of the first official exchanges in the world. In 2007 the LSE merged with the Milan Stock Exchange (Borsa Italiana), creating the multinational stock exchange operator the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). As a group, in 2021 the LSEG was the second largest stock exchange in Europe, and the eighth largest exchange operator globally. 2021 also saw the Milan Stock Exchange leave the LSEG to become part of the Euronext (Europe’s largest stock exchange operator), with integration details still being finalized at the time of writing. However, the move still leaves the LSE with a market capitalization of around four trillion British pounds as of late 2021 – in other words, still one of the largest stock exchanges in the world.

Markets of the LSE

There are main markets in which companies trade on the LSE. The Main Market includes the largest companies on the exchange. The FTSE 100 stock market index - considered a bellwether for the UK economy - is compiled of the 100 most highly capitalized companies trading on the Main Market. In contrast, the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) is the international market for smaller companies. As the London Stock Exchange is often used by companies to raise funds and increases their profile, the AIM often admits early-stage or venture capital-backed companies seeking to grow capital. This importance of the LSE for international markets is reflected in the very high number of international companies listed there.

Effect of the coronavirus pandemic

Like all major stock markets, the LSE (as represented by the FTSE stock market index) fell sharply in March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, unlike most other major stock markets, as of October 2021 the LSE is yet to recover its value. In fact, it is one of only two major stock markets not to recover to pre-coronavirus levels (the other being Hong Kong). While Britain suffered very high case numbers during the pandemic, what distinguishes the country from its peers is the impact of Brexit. With transition agreements with the EU expiring in January 2021, the U.K. has been hit with a double economic shock in the last two years, leaving the LSE behind where it was two years earlier.

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