US Stock Market Guide: Insights for Indian Investors

Investing in the US stock market offers Indian investors an opportunity to diversify their portfolios and gain exposure to one of the largest and most changing financial markets globally. With the rise of technology and globalisation, accessing international markets has become increasingly feasible.

Let us get an overview of the US stock market, its major exchanges, key indices, and regulatory framework, essential for Indian investors seeking to explore investment opportunities abroad.

What is the US Stock Market?

The United States stock market stands as one of the major players in global finance, comprising major exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and NASDAQ. These exchanges are similar to India’s Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE). Crucially, they host key indices such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and NASDAQ Composite, equivalent to India’s SENSEX and NIFTY, reflecting diverse aspects of the market.

The Dow Jones tracks 30 leading companies, while the S&P 500 includes 500 large firms across sectors, offering broad market insights. In contrast, the NASDAQ Composite focuses on stocks listed on the NASDAQ exchange, emphasising technological and growth-oriented companies.

Notably, the NYSE holds the title of the world’s largest stock exchange by market capitalisation, underscoring its global significance. Meanwhile, NASDAQ, the second-largest in the US, has carved a niche for itself, particularly in technology and innovation-driven sectors.

How Does the US Stock Market Work?

The US stock market operates through two primary exchanges: the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Nasdaq. The NYSE, the world’s largest equity stock exchange, boasts a long history and hosts a diverse array of companies. In contrast, the Nasdaq, a newer exchange, specialises in technology and is home to global leaders like Apple and Google.

While there are numerous indices managed by various US stock exchanges, the most prominent indices include the S&P 500, the Nasdaq Composite, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). These indices offer insights into the overall market performance and are crucial benchmarks for investors.

The S&P 500 consists of the top 500 companies in the US, sorted by market capitalisation. It represents a broad cross-section of the economy and is widely regarded as a barometer for the health of US markets.

Similarly, the Nasdaq Composite tracks over 3,000 stocks listed on the Nasdaq exchange, including companies from various sectors. Notably, some of these companies are not exclusively listed in the US, reflecting the exchange’s global reach.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, comprising 30 prominent companies, is a price-weighted index that provides insight into the performance of large-cap stocks. While it represents a smaller sample compared to the S&P 500, the DJIA is closely watched by investors and analysts alike.

Investors often construct portfolios that mirror these indices to gain exposure to the broader market. This approach allows for diversification and risk mitigation, as the indices encompass a wide range of companies and industries.

How is the US Stock Market Regulated?

The US stock market is regulated primarily by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), founded in 1934. This federal agency enforces securities laws, oversees the securities industry, and safeguards investor interests. The SEC’s mandate is to uphold transparency, fairness, and efficiency in securities markets while combating fraud and abuses. Through regulatory oversight, the SEC aims to give investors confidence and maintain the integrity of the US stock market. That ensures its stability and reliability as a platform for investment and capital formation.

How Can You Invest in US Stocks from India?

Investing in US stocks from India offers diverse avenues, primarily through direct or indirect channels. Direct investment involves opening an overseas trading account with a broker like Religare Broking, enabling individuals to purchase stocks directly from the US market. This method provides direct exposure to specific companies and allows investors to tailor their portfolios according to their preferences.

Alternatively, indirect investment options include mutual funds or Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that specialise in US equities. These investment vehicles pool funds from multiple investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of US stocks. For beginners or those seeking a more hands-off approach, investing through mutual funds or ETFs offers simplicity and diversification, reducing individual stock selection risk.

Regardless of the chosen method, it’s essential to stay informed about the US stock market’s performance. Using online platforms for real-time market updates helps investors make informed decisions and stay updated on market trends.

US Securities and Exchange Commission

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) plays a pivotal role in overseeing the US stock market and enforcing federal securities laws. Established by the federal government, the SEC operates with a clear three-part mission:

  • Investor Protection: One of the primary functions of the SEC is to help investors’ interests. This includes ensuring that investors have access to accurate and timely information about securities, companies, and markets. By enforcing transparency and disclosure requirements, the SEC aims to prevent fraud and misconduct.

  • Market Regulation: The SEC works to maintain fair and efficient markets by enforcing rules and regulations that promote integrity and transparency. Through monitoring market activities, detecting and deterring market manipulation, and overseeing securities exchanges and self-regulatory organisations, the SEC strives to uphold market integrity and protect against systemic risks.

  • Capital Formation: Facilitating the efficient allocation of capital is another key objective of the SEC. By promoting access to capital markets for companies of all sizes and ensuring compliance with securities laws, the SEC helps encourage economic growth and innovation.

While considering investment opportunities in the US stock exchanges, several factors merit attention:

  • Economic Recovery: Monitoring the relaxation of lockdown measures and measuring consumer activity and mobility can provide insights into the economy’s recovery trajectory.

  • Critical Analysis: It’s essential to critically evaluate media-reported statistics and economic indicators to understand the true state of the markets and the economy.

  • Fiscal Policies: Keeping updated on fiscal stimulus packages and government interventions is important, as they can affect market dynamics and investor sentiment.

Number of Stock Exchanges in the US

In the United States, there are currently 13 stock exchanges, each playing a crucial role in facilitating the trading of securities and financial instruments. Among these exchanges, three major entities dominate: Intercontinental Exchange Inc. (ICE), Nasdaq Inc., and CBOE Global Markets. These entities collectively oversee 12 exchanges, while the remaining exchange is operated independently by the IEX Group.

The 12 exchanges managed by ICE, Nasdaq, and CBOE Global Markets include:

  • NASDAQ Global Select

  • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

  • NYSE Arca

  • CBOE EDGX Exchange



  • CBOE EDGA Exchange

  • NYSE National



  • NYSE Chicago

  • NYSE American

The IEX operates as the only independent exchange in the country. Founded with a focus on fairness and transparency, IEX aims to provide a level playing field for investors by implementing innovative trading mechanisms and protocols.

Regulations and the LRS

Residents of India have the opportunity to invest in US stocks through the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS), established by the Reserve Bank of India in 2004. This scheme permits residents to remit funds abroad without requiring prior approval from the RBI, subject to specific limits. Presently, individuals can remit up to $250,000 per financial year under the LRS framework, as long as the transaction is not restricted and remains within the prescribed limit. The LRS facilitates international investments, including participation in US stock markets, providing Indian investors with avenues for diversification and wealth creation.


Investing in the US stock market from India offers a gateway to global opportunities and portfolio diversification. Understanding the market’s fundamentals, major exchanges, key indices, and regulatory framework is crucial for successful investment ventures. Whether opting for direct or indirect investment avenues, staying informed and proactive is essential. With the right knowledge and strategies about the US stock market, Indian investors can get through the complexities effectively, capitalise on growth prospects, and achieve their investment objectives.

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