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NASDAQ Stock Exchange



As the world's largest electronic stock market, NASDAQ® is not limited to one central trading location. Rather, trading is executed through NASDAQ's sophisticated computer and telecommunications network, which transmits real-time quote and trade data to more than 1.3 million users in 83 countries. Without size limitations or geographical boundaries, NASDAQ's "open architecture" market structure allows a virtually unlimited number of participants to trade in a company's stock.

Today, NASDAQ lists the securities of nearly 4,100 of the world's leading companies and each year, continues to help hundreds of companies successfully make the transition to public ownership.

Trading on NASDAQ is not limited to any fixed number of participants. This allows a large number of firms with widely different business models and trading technologies to connect to the NASDAQ network and compete on an equal basis. Rather than forcing investors to go through a single financial firm to buy or sell stocks, NASDAQ links up a variety of competitors and lets participants choose with whom they are going to trade. All firms trading NASDAQ stocks must be certified with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and registered with NASDAQ and NASD Regulation®. Following are examples of the kinds of firms trading NASDAQ stocks:

Market Makers
Key to NASDAQ's market structure are a core group of financial firms called market makers. More than 500 market making firms trade on NASDAQ, acting as distributors for NASDAQ-listed securities. Also known as dealers, market makers are unique in that they commit their own capital to NASDAQ-listed securities — then turn around and re-distribute the stock as needed. They are required at all times to post their bid and ask prices in the NASDAQ network where they can be viewed and accessed by all participants. By being willing to buy or sell stock using their own funds, market makers add liquidity to NASDAQ's market, ensure that there are always buyers and sellers for NASDAQ-listed securities, and enable trades to be filled quickly and efficiently.
 
ECNs
In addition to market makers, the NASDAQ network also connects alternative trading systems into the market, such as electronic communication networks (ECNs). ECNs provide electronic facilities that investors can use to trade directly with each other. As NASDAQ market participants, ECNs display either one-sided or two-sided quotes that reflect actual orders. Additionally, they provide investors with an anonymous way to enter orders into the marketplace. Unlike market makers, ECNs operate simply as order-matching mechanisms and do not maintain inventories of their own.
 
Order-Entry Firms
Order-entry firms are also NASDAQ market participants. Order-entry firms enter and execute orders through NASDAQ on behalf of retail and institutional customers and other broker/dealers, but they do not maintain buy or sell price quotations in NASDAQ-listed securities. Like ECNs, order-entry firms do not commit capital to stocks, but they do increase the competition among market participants — helping to keep stock prices competitive and adding to the market's liquidity.

Through its unique framework of multiple market participants, NASDAQ provides listed companies' securities with ready access to investors, visibility in the marketplace, and market conditions that promote immediate and continuous trading:

Liquidity
Liquidity is best defined as the ease with which stocks can be bought and sold in the market. By encouraging trading among a virtually unlimited number of market participants, NASDAQ offers an environment that facilitates greater liquidity.
 
Depth of Market
Depth of market refers to the total amount of money market makers have invested in a single security and is related to the number of market participants trading in the security. However, even a few market participants can provide abundant depth of market by committing to buy or sell large quantities of a security. Knowing there is depth of market can reassure investors of a stock's marketability, especially during periods of heavy trading volume.
 
Transparency
Transparency, the ability to view investors' buy and sell orders at different price levels, is crucial to the decision-making process in securities trading. NASDAQ's open market structure offers a level of transparency not found on other major U.S. markets. On NASDAQ, all bid and ask quotations in a given security are broadcast over the network. All NASDAQ market participants — regardless of whether they are professional traders — can see the same information.
 
Price Efficiency
In securities trading, as in most industries, competition is one of the most important factors in creating price efficiencies. The aggressive competition for orders fostered among NASDAQ's market participants helps to ensure that investors receive the best prices for the securities they trade.

NASDAQ is building the world's first truly global stock market — digital and Internet-accessible, open to anyone anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. NASDAQ has already broken new ground in Europe, Hong Kong, and Canada , with additional plans for Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. By reaching out around the globe, NASDAQ is creating new links to additional capital and an even broader pool of investors.

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The Information on the Site is provided for information purposes only. The Information is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice or any other advice. The trading of stocks, futures, commodities, index futures or any other securities has potential rewards, and it also has potential risks involved. Trading may not be suitable for all users of this Website. Past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance. You absolutely must make your own decisions before acting on any information obtained from this Website.

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