The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is the world’s largest equities market by dollar volume. In December 2008 approximately 3,500 companies with a total capitalization of nearly $10 trillion were listed on the Exchange.
As you might imagine, the Exchange started out much smaller.
In 1792, five securities traded in New York City: three government bonds and two bank stocks. That year, a group of 24 financial leaders set up the conditions and regulations that would become known as the Buttonwood Agreement.
The contract, signed under the tree that bears its name, created the first organized stock exchange in New York. The new venture was called The Stock Exchange Office and was headquartered in a coffee house on Wall Street. Securities were auctioned and sold to the highest bidder at noon. The seller paid the exchange a commission on each stock or bond sold.
In 1817 the name was changed to the New York Stock and Exchange Board. The board had its own constitution and bylaws, and by 1835 listed 121 companies.
Another historic number was reached on October 29, 1929. On that day volume reached 16 million shares—and the stock market crashed, a precursor to the Great Depression.
Fifty-eight years later, on “Black Monday”, October 19, 1987, the Exchange experienced the largest one-day percentage drop in history: 22.61% on volume of 604 million shares.
Today, the NYSE is part of the holding company NYSE Euronext, which operates three securities exchanges in the US and five European-based exchanges. According to its annual report, NYSE Euronext is a global provider of securities listing, trading, market data products, and software and technology services.