There are many individual stock markets throughout the world, but by volume and total value, the largest is the NewYork Stock Exchange.
Why are these large animals fighting on Wall Street? A “bull market” is one which is on the rise with stocks increasing in value, while a “bear market” is one of falling stock values, generally a loss of at least 20% below a recent peak. The traditional explanation of invoking these animals relates to how each strikes in battle: a bull thrusts horns upward at an opponent, while a bear swipes its mighty claws downward.
The Nasdaq is the world’s second largest stock market after the NYSE, was fully electronic since its creation in 1971, and tends to trade more tech-intensive and growth-focused stocks.
Business partners Charles Dow and Edward Jones created the Dow Jones in 1896. It is an index of thirty established and consistently-earning companies, traded on both the NYSE and Nasdaq, which serve as a proxy for the broader economy.
Another common index is the “S & P 500,” which includes the largest 500 stocks from the NYSE and Nasdaq. S & P is for Standard and Poor’s, a company formed from the 1941 merger of Poor’s Publishing and the Standard Statistic’s Bureau, companies which had been publishing credit ratings, financial data, and market indicators. The McGraw-Hill Company later bought S&P in 1966.
A stock’s shortened “ticker symbol,” such as “MSFT” for Microsoft Corporation, is named for the pre-digital days when stock prices appeared on ticker tape, a practice which began in 1867.
In a three-year period starting in October 1929, the US stock market lost nearly 90% of its value, leading to the Great Depression.