Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Global stock markets allow investors to trade around the clock, with around 630,000 publicly traded company stocks.
While the US exchanges remain the largest internationally, other exchanges in Tokyo, Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia continue to develop and become more competitive.
Most exchanges are open for trading from Monday to Friday, with only a few closing briefly during the trading day for lunch, which is more common in Asian marketplaces. The London Stock Exchange breaks for exactly two minutes every day at midday.
Here’s a round-the-world trip starting with the earliest opener – Tokyo.
Table of contents
- 1. The Tokyo Stock Exchange: Trading 12 am – 6 pm GMT
- 2. The Shanghai Stock Exchange: 1.30 am – 7 am GMT
- 3. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange: 1.30 am – 8 am GMT
- 4. The London Stock Exchange: 8 am – 4.30 pm GMT
- 5. The New York Stock Exchange: 2.30 pm – 9 pm GMT
- The Main World Markets
- World’s Major Stock Markets FAQ
- Related Information
1. The Tokyo Stock Exchange: Trading 12 am – 6 pm GMT
The Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) is the fifth largest globally, with a market cap of £3.97 trillion based on the companies that list stocks on the exchange. The progressively stronger Japanese currency has also helped the TSE to expand, with around 3,800 listed firms.
Since its launch in 1878, the TSE has established partnerships with other exchanges, including the London Stock Exchange, and includes the Nikkei 225 as one of the major indexes featuring well-known and high-growth Japanese companies.
The Japanese Exchange Group runs the TSE, which trades shares in global giants such as Mitsubishi, Honda, and Toyota.
2. The Shanghai Stock Exchange: 1.30 am – 7 am GMT
The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) is run by the China Securities Regulatory Commission as a not-for-profit organisation. The SSE opened in 1990 and now features stocks from over 2,100 companies.
Trading fell from 2008 onwards and is somewhat dependent on Chinese investment appetite and opportunities for global investors to participate in Chinese equities. However, the market value remains the third largest at £4.84 trillion.
For example, A shares in Chinese firms are restricted and only available to Chinese citizens, although investors can trade H shares through the Hong Kong Stock Exchange from anywhere in the world.
3. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange: 1.30 am – 8 am GMT
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKG) is owned by Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing Limited (HKEX). It lists over 2,200 company shares, just over 300 H shares, and 172 red-chip stocks, with a market capitalisation of approximately £2.72 trillion.
Global investors often trade on the HKG as a gateway to Chinese investment. The exchange first opened in 1891 and is currently the seventh largest in the world, having grown significantly in the last 15 years, primarily because of the regulation related to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
It was originally called the Association of Stockbrokers in Hong Kong and changed its name in 1914, evolving in 1921 when non-Chinese members first joined. After the end of World War II, the HKG combined with the Hong Kong Stockbroker’s Association, previously a separate organisation.
4. The London Stock Exchange: 8 am – 4.30 pm GMT
The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is the tenth largest internationally in terms of the market capitalisation of listed companies. Still, it is often regarded as one of the most important due to the global nature of the firms that choose to list through it.
Around 2,000 company stocks are traded on the LSE and other affiliate exchanges, which dropped in 2000 from a previous high of closer to 3,000. The LSE was first launched in 1801, almost ten years after the New York Stock Exchange and merged with the Milan stock exchange, called the Borsa Italiana, in 2007, hence the formal name of the London Stock Exchange Group.
It has a current market capitalisation value of £2.28 trillion. The LSE operates from Paternoster Square in the City of London, as one of the oldest exchanges in the world, with stocks trading from over 60 countries and a respected source of benchmark pricing, market data and liquidity for equity markets.
In 1986 the UK government deregulated the London stock market, known as the big bang, which paved the way for electronic trading and enabled the LSE to expand into international capital markets. The FTSE 100 Share Index contains 100 of the most traded blue-chip stocks on the LSE.
5. The New York Stock Exchange: 2.30 pm – 9 pm GMT
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is the biggest worldwide, with a £17.88 trillion market cap, compared to Nasdaq‘s £13.93 trillion – putting the two US exchanges in the top two positions.
It is an arm of NYSE EURONEXT, which owns European and US exchanges, managing around 30 per cent of all international equity trading, and one of the primary global exchanges.
The NYSE opened in 1792, and the bell ringing to signal the beginning and end of each trading day is now part of stock trading folklore. There are roughly 2,400 listed companies, of which 1,800 are domestic.
When the NYSE was founded, it was called the New York Stock and Exchange Board, but it changed this in 1863 to the name that remains in use today.
The Main World Markets
While there are around 60 world stock markets, the ten largest manage 78.8 per cent of all global stocks, with approximately 60 per cent listed with the NYSE and Nasdaq.
There is a significant gap between the market capitalisation of the biggest players and those further down the top ten list.
|Ranking||Exchange||Value by Market Cap|
|1||New York Stock Exchange||£17.88 trillion|
|3||Shanghai Stock Exchange||£4.84 trillion|
|5||Japan Exchange Group (Tokyo Stock Exchange)||£3.97 trillion|
|6||Shenzhen Stock Exchange||£3.42 trillion|
|7||Hong Kong Exchanges||£2.72 trillion|
|8||National Stock Exchange of India||£2.65 trillion|
|9||Saudi Stock Exchange||£2.31 trillion|
|10||London Stock Exchange||£2.28 trillion|
The Five Largest Stock Markets Internationally
The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are the first and second largest stock exchanges worldwide, followed by the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Euronext, and Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Euronext NV is the biggest exchange in Europe and was created by merging the stock exchanges previously in Brussels, Paris, and Amsterdam in 2000. It has integrated with other exchanges and was acquired by the Intercontinental Exchange, but became independent again in 2014.
Multiple assets are traded through Euronext, including ETFs, bonds, commodities, indices, equities, and derivatives, and it manages several benchmark indexes such as the AEX, CAC 40 and BEL 20.
There are 60 major stock exchanges, but only 16 have a market capitalisation valued over $1 trillion in US dollars – sometimes called the $1 trillion club. These exchanges manage 87 per cent of the international market, including overseas companies that list on an exchange in a different jurisdiction.
There Is no world stock exchange, but the MSCI World Index acts as an equity index across 23 markets in economically developed countries as part of The Modern Index Strategy.
World’s Major Stock Markets FAQ
The United States is home to the two largest stock markets worldwide – the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.
The Nasdaq Stock Market is also based in New York City and has a larger volume of stocks traded, but it is second to the NYSE in terms of the total market cap value.
The United States stock markets are the strongest worldwide, accounting for almost 60 per cent of all stocks, an increase in 2022 from a previous proportion of around 46 per cent. The Japanese and UK stock exchanges are also contenders by stock market share in terms of the volume of stocks listed.
Stock indexes list and average all the stocks within a sector or entire market. They differ from an exchange, which provides pricing, liquidity, and trading tools for investors to buy or sell securities, bonds and stocks included within each index.
The three biggest indexes by market cap, and the most followed, include the following:
– S&P 500 (SPX)
– Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI)
– Nasdaq Composite (IXIC)
There is also an index called the Wilshire 500, which includes all stocks from across the American stock market.
There are 60 stock exchanges, although these vary significantly from the New York Stock Exchange, with £17.88 trillion in market capitalisation, to smaller localised exchanges.
In comparison, the London Stock Exchange is the tenth largest but has a fraction of the market value of the NYSE at £2.28 trillion.
Each stock exchange is separate and has specific opening hours – hence the option for traders to work overnight, capturing market movements and opportunities when the Tokyo Stock Exchange opens at midnight GMT.
They can follow trading around the globe, beginning in Tokyo and then progressing through Shanghai and Hong Kong, followed by European markets such as the London Stock Exchange or Euronext, and then the American markets later in the day.
However, the London Stock Exchange is often regarded as the most international since it has over 2,000 global companies that list and trade on the exchange.
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