National stock exchange

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A national stock exchange is a securities exchange that is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for the purposes of trading equity securities (stocks) on a national scale.[1]

Definition and Characteristics[edit]

A national stock exchange is a centralized marketplace where stocks of publicly-traded companies are bought and sold. These exchanges facilitate the trading of equity securities, including common stocks and other securities like exchange-traded funds (ETFs), through an auction process that matches buyers and sellers.

To be considered a national stock exchange, an exchange must meet the following criteria:

  • Registration with the SEC: The exchange must register with the SEC as a national securities exchange under Section 6 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. This registration subjects the exchange to SEC oversight and regulations.
  • Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO): National stock exchanges are designated as self-regulatory organizations (SROs) by the SEC. As SROs, they are responsible for enforcing their own rules and regulations, as well as those set forth by the SEC, to ensure fair and orderly trading.
  • National Scope: The exchange must operate on a national scale, facilitating trading for investors across the United States. This distinguishes national stock exchanges from regional exchanges or local exchanges.
  • Listing Standards: National stock exchanges establish and enforce listing requirements that companies must meet to have their stocks traded on the exchange. These standards typically include criteria related to a company's size, financial performance, corporate governance, and disclosure practices.

Major National Stock Exchanges in the U.S.[edit]

The two largest and most well-known national stock exchanges in the United States are:

  • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE): Established in 1792, the NYSE is one of the oldest and largest stock exchanges in the world. It is known for its iconic trading floor and is home to many of the largest publicly-traded companies.
  • Nasdaq Stock Market (Nasdaq): Founded in 1971, Nasdaq is an entirely electronic exchange and is particularly known for listing technology companies. It is the second-largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalization.

Other national stock exchanges in the U.S. include:

Regulatory Oversight and Functions[edit]

As SROs, national stock exchanges are subject to oversight and regulation by the SEC. The SEC is responsible for ensuring that the exchanges operate in a fair and efficient manner, protect investors, and maintain orderly markets.

National stock exchanges perform several key functions, including:

  • Listing and Delisting: Exchanges establish and enforce listing requirements for companies seeking to have their stocks traded on the exchange. They also have the authority to delist companies that fail to meet these requirements.
  • Market Surveillance: Exchanges monitor trading activities on their platforms to detect and prevent market manipulation, insider trading, and other violations of securities laws and exchange rules.
  • Rulemaking: National stock exchanges develop and enforce their own rules and regulations governing trading activities, market participants, and listed companies, subject to SEC approval.
  • Dispute Resolution: Exchanges provide mechanisms for resolving disputes between market participants, such as arbitration or mediation processes.
  • Market Data Dissemination: Exchanges are responsible for disseminating real-time trade and quote information to the public, ensuring transparency and equal access to market data.

By registering with the SEC and operating as national stock exchanges, these marketplaces are subject to rigorous oversight and regulations designed to maintain fair and orderly markets, protect investors, and promote market integrity.


  1. National Securities Exchange. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.