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A stock exchange or bourse is an exchange where stock brokers and traders can buy and/or sell stocks (also called shares), bonds, and other securities. Stock exchanges may also provide facilities for issue and redemption of securities and other financial instruments, and capital events including the payment of income and dividends. Securities traded on a stock exchange include stock issued by listed companies, unit trusts, derivatives, pooled investment products and bonds. Stock exchanges often function as “continuous auction” markets, with buyers and sellers consummating transactions at a central location, such as the floor of the exchange.
To be able to trade a security on a certain stock exchange, it must be listed there. Usually, there is a central location at least for record keeping, but trade is increasingly less linked to such a physical place, as modern markets use electronic networks, which gives them advantages of increased speed and reduced cost of transactions. Trade on an exchange is restricted to brokers who are members of the exchange. In recent years, various other trading venues, such as electronic communication networks, alternative trading systems and “dark pools” have taken much of the trading activity away from traditional stock exchanges.