The stock market constitutes stock exchanges where financial instruments such as stocks/shares, bonds and derivatives are bought and sold. The buyers and sellers come together to trade these securities at the stock exchanges. Thus, the primary functions of stock market are facilitating a trustworthy financial marketplace for investors & businesses, where businesses trade their shares publicly to raise capital and make shareholders a part of their growth journey, whilst the exchange protects investors’ interests by ensuring transparency, liquidity and fair pricing.
The stock markets can be divided as primary markets and secondary markets. In the primary market, companies issue initial public offerings (IPOs) and sell a percentage of equity for the first time to the public. They raise the required capital from investors with the help of an IPO. Once the company is listed in the exchange, the shares can be sold & purchased in the secondary markets during the market hours.
The stock markets are also called as equity markets/ capital markets and act as a critical component of an economy. It facilitates the flow of capital from investors to businesses seeking funding. This capital infusion allows companies to expand operations, invest in research and development, fostering innovation, economic growth, and job creation. At the same time, markets also provide the investors (individuals and institutions) with the opportunity to earn returns on investments through dividends and capital appreciation.
List of Popular Stock Exchanges
In India, two prominent stock exchanges dominate the landscape: the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE).
Established in 1875, BSE has an illustrious legacy as Asia's oldest stock exchange. The BSE has been a cornerstone of India's financial evolution, facilitating capital mobilization for businesses through its well-regulated platform. In 2017, BSE became India’s first listed stock exchange. Its iconic S&P BSE Sensex index is India’s most tracked benchmark Index. It is traded internationally as well on EUREX and BRCS (Brazil, Russia, China & South Africa). In 2017, BSE launched India INX, India's 1st international exchange, located at GIFT CITY IFSC in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
With its cutting-edge electronic trading platform, NSE has revolutionized stock trading in India. In 1994, it became the first Indian exchange that implemented electronic or screen-based trading. It is a pillar of India's financial landscape and stands as a symbol of modernity and innovation. It offers seamless transactions and protects investor interests by offering transparency and real-time information. As the preferred choice for millions of traders, NSE has propelled India's capital markets to new heights. Its major indices like Nifty 50 guide market trends.
Functions of Stock Market
Stock markets serve a range of essential functions in the financial system of an economy. Some of the key functions of stock markets for investors as well as companies are:
One of the primary functions of the stock market is to facilitate the raising of capital for businesses. Companies issue stocks (equity securities via IPOs) to raise funds for various purposes such as expanding operations, investing in new projects, and research and development. By purchasing these stocks, investors provide the necessary capital that helps businesses grow and create economic value.
The stock market provides liquidity to investors by offering a platform where they can buy and sell stocks easily. This liquidity is important as it allows investors to convert their investments into cash relatively quickly. It also encourages investment by providing an exit strategy for investors who want to sell their holdings.
The stock market is a market where prices are determined based on the supply and demand of stocks. It serves as a platform for investors to express their opinions about the value of a company. The constant trading of stocks leads to the establishment of market prices that reflect investors' perceptions of a company's current and future performance.
This is a crucial function of a stock market. Investors can generate wealth by purchasing shares of companies that experience growth in their stock prices. This growth leads to capital appreciation, benefiting individual investors.
Owning shares of a company entitles investors to a portion of the company's profits in the form of dividends. This provides a consistent income stream to shareholders.
Investing in the stock market involves a degree of risk. Investors bear the risk that the value of their investments may decline due to changes in market conditions or the performance of the companies they invest in. By participating in the stock market, investors are essentially transferring and sharing these risks.
At the same time, stock markets enable investors to diversify their portfolios risk by holding shares in different companies across various industries, reducing the impact of poor performance in any single investment.
Corporate Governance and Control
Owning shares of a company gives investors ownership rights, such as voting rights in corporate decisions. This allows shareholders to have a say in major company decisions, including the selection of board members, executive compensation, and strategic direction. This aspect of the stock market helps ensure accountability and good corporate governance.
Benchmark for Performance
Stock market indices, such as S&P BSE Sensex, NSE Nifty, BSE 200, serve as benchmarks for the overall performance of the market or specific sectors. These indices help investors gauge how their portfolios are performing compared to the broader market.
The performance of the stock market is often considered a reflection of the overall health of the economy. A rising stock market can indicate economic growth and investor confidence, while a declining market may signal economic uncertainty or potential downturns.
Efficient stock markets incorporate available information into stock prices quickly and accurately. This encourages companies to provide accurate and timely information to the public, promoting transparency and market efficiency.
In all, stock markets play a multifaceted role in an economy, ranging from capital formation and investment opportunities to economic indicators and risk management. The transactions take place at the stock exchange and thus all these are also functions of stock exchanges. Understanding these functions is crucial for investors and businesses alike. An informed investor can make smart investment decisions by choosing to open a demat account and participating in the market opportunities.
In essence, the stock market serves as a financial hub where investors, companies and the economy converge. Its multifaceted functions encompass primary and secondary market activities, price discovery, risk mitigation, and economic indicators. So, whether you're a seasoned investor or just starting your journey, understand the functioning of the stock market will help you tread carefully in your investment journey.