Understanding Stocks

understanding stocks

Understanding Stocks: Your Beginner’s Guide to Investment

Stocks, which are also known as shares or equities, represent ownership in a company. This can be in the form of a small percentage of a company’s value or a large percentage. Investing in stocks is a fundamental way that individuals can participate in the financial markets. A Doing this they aim to grow wealthy over a period of time. Understanding stocks is the first step towards stock ownership, but what exactly are stocks and how do they work?

What are Stocks?

When a company decides to raise capital, maybe to grow, it can issue stocks to the public. Each stock represents a share of ownership in that company. As a stockholder, you become a part-owner and then share in the company’s profits (or losses) and potential growth.

Understanding Stocks, How Stocks Work:

Buying Stocks:

Stocks are bought and sold on stock exchanges. Investors purchase stocks through brokerage accounts, where they can access a variety of stocks which are listed on exchanges. The exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or NASDAQ, or the London Stock Exchange (LSE), are highly regulated companies which trade the stocks from the companies wishing to sell shares.

(We have a follow-on article at the bottom of this page on the main Stock Exchanges around the World)

Stock Prices:

The price of a stock in a company will fluctuate based on various factors. These include company performance, market conditions, economic trends, and investor sentiment. Stocks are typically categorized by their market value and investment style (e.g., growth or value stocks).


Some companies share their profits with stockholders in the form of dividends. Not all companies pay dividends, but those that do provide a regular income stream to shareholders. The dividends can be quarterly, half yearly or annually.

Capital Gains:

Selling a stock for a price higher than the purchase price results in capital gains. Conversely, selling for less than the purchase price leads to a capital loss. You will probably pay tax on the gain but be able to offset the loss against other taxable income

Understanding Stocks, Types of Stocks:

Common Stocks:

These are the most prevalent type of stock. Owners have voting rights in shareholder meetings and may receive dividends.

Preferred Stocks:

These stocks typically don’t have voting rights, but shareholders receive fixed dividends before common stockholders.

Blue-chip Stocks:

These are stocks of well-established, financially sound companies with a history of stable performance.

Small-Cap, Mid-Cap, and Large-Cap Stocks:

Stocks are categorized based on the company’s market capitalization, which represents the total value of all outstanding shares.

Risks and Rewards:

Investing in stocks comes with risks. Stock prices are sometimes volatile, and the stock market can fluctuate based on various factors beyond an individual investor’s control. It may also be beyond the company’s control. However, historically, stocks have provided higher returns over the long term compared to many other investment options.

Understanding Stocks: The Wrap

Understanding stocks is a crucial step for anyone looking to start investing. It’s essential to research and diversify your investments to mitigate risks. While stocks offer opportunities for growth and financial gain, they also require patience, strategy, and a long-term perspective.

By grasping the basics of stocks, individuals can embark on their investment journey with confidence, seeking to build wealth and achieve their financial goals.

Exploring Major Stock Trading Centers: A Brief Historical Overview

As mentioned above, Stock exchanges serve as crucial hubs where financial instruments, predominantly stocks and securities, are bought and sold. Over time, several prominent trading centers have emerged worldwide, each with their unique history and significance in the global economy. Knowing some of the history will help in Understanding Stocks. The following includes some of the main markets.

  1. New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), USA

Established in 1792, the NYSE is one of the oldest and largest stock exchanges globally. Its history dates back to the Buttonwood Agreement, signed under a buttonwood tree, where traders gathered to exchange securities. This is a place at what is now 68 Wall Street is where the first traders signed the agreement as a basis of trading between them. Since this time, the NYSE has played a pivotal role in shaping American capitalism and remains a symbol of global financial prowess.


Founded in 1971, the NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations) is known for its electronic trading system and its focus on technology companies. It’s home to numerous tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet. The NASDAQ has gained prominence for its innovation and is recognized for being the first electronic exchange.

  1. London Stock Exchange (LSE), UK

Dating back to 1801, the London Stock Exchange is one of the oldest in the world. The LSE was initially established as a coffeehouse where merchants traded shares. From here it evolved into a formal exchange. The LSE has adapted to global economic changes and is one of the key players in international finance, trading equities, bonds, and derivatives.

  1. Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), Japan

The TSE, established in 1878, has been instrumental in Japan’s economic growth. Over its history, it has witnessed the transformation of Japan’s economy from post-war reconstruction, then on to becoming a global economic powerhouse. The TSE plays a crucial role in trading Japanese equities and is among the largest stock exchanges in Asia.

  1. Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE), China

Founded in 1990, the SSE is relatively young compared to other exchanges. However, it has rapidly expanded alongside China’s booming economic growth. It’s a vital platform for trading stocks, bonds, and funds, contributing significantly to China’s financial development and global market integration.

  1. Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX), Hong Kong

Established in 1891, the HKEX has served as a bridge between East and West. It gained international recognition as a major financial center, especially after the Handover in 1997 when Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China. The HKEX continues to be a key hub for global capital flow.

These stock trading centers stand as testaments to the evolution of financial markets and have shaped the global economy. They facilitate the exchange of securities, play pivotal roles in economic development, and reflect the dynamic nature of international finance.

As with all Investments prices can rise and fall. You should only ever invest money you can afford to lose. The stock market will generally continue to grow over a period of time, but it is not a guarantee. Make sure you get good financial advice and shop around for it, before you invest your money.

Checkout Our Main Article on Using a Finance Broker