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Exchanges and Brokers

There are three big stock exchanges in the United States:
• NYSE - New York Stock Exchange
• AMEX - American Stock Exchange
• NASDAQ - National Association of Securities Dealers A company "lists" its stock on an exchange. For example, the NYSE has about 3,000 companies listed. According to the NYSE: At the end of November, 1998, there were 3,104 companies with stock listed on the NYSE. These companies had over 236 billion shares worth a total of $10.1 trillion available for trading on the Exchange, giving the NYSE the world's largest market capitalization (in global market-value terms, the total global value of the NYSE-listed companies exceeded $12.8 trillion). Anyone who wants to buy or sell stock in any of these 3,000 or so companies goes to the New York Stock Exchange to do it. Of course, no one wants to fly to New York to buy or sell their shares. A person therefore calls a stock broker in a firm that is authorized to trade at the exchange. There are dozens of such brokerage houses, including such familiar names as Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab and Morgan Stanley. When you call up a broker at one of these companies, he or she relays your trade to the floor of the appropriate exchange, and a representative of the company (or, more commonly, a computer representing the company) makes the trade on your behalf. You pay the broker a commission (generally $10 to $100 per trade, depending on the broker) to provide this service to you. Stocks that are not listed on an exchange are sold Over The Counter (OTC). OTC stocks are generally in smaller, riskier companies. Usually, an OTC stock is stock in a company that does not meet the requirements of an exchange. Lots More Information!

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