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What Stocks Are and How Stock Market Investments Work

Aug 17, 2007
People hear about the stock market every day. Each time the stock market hits a high, or a low, people hear about them. Daily statements are also issued about the activities of the stock market and its relevant economic implications. But what really is a stock market? What are stocks? And why is it that people want to do stock market investments?

The stock market is the marketplace where the trading of company stocks happen. These stocks may either be the securities which are listed on the stock exchange or those which are traded in a private manner. Stock market investments allow companies and private individuals to get a share of ownership in large corporations. It is also a way of gathering large sums of investment capital which is difficult to produce if the business is solely-owned. The large capital then comes from the stock market investments.

Stocks are shares of a company or business which gets on sale in the stock market. Stock market investment happens when a person buys a share of a company's stocks that were put on sale in the stock market. For example, a businessman decides to sell his business in the stock market. Each stock market investment is represented by the person who buys his share of stocks. When this happens, any person who buys stocks in the businessman's company will have an equal share of profits by the end of the year, and an equal vote in the company's business decisions.

In the past, stock market investments were done by individual buyers and sellers. Through time, however, this has changed and the market participants evolved from individual investors to large corporations. This change in the activities of stock market investment has also helped to control movements in the market.

To encourage stock market investments, a business that wishes to sell its stocks to individuals and corporations could only do so if it becomes a corporation. Individual capital investors and big corporations who buy a number of shares of a business or a corporation are then called shareholders. Shareholders are the owners of the new incorporated business. Their stock market investments gave them the authority to claim ownership of the business. These people can now decide whether to privately or publicly hold their corporation.

In a privately held company, the shareholders are few and probably know one another. Their stock market investments are known to each other. The publicly held company, however, is owned by a large number of people who do stock market investments on the public stock exchange.
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