While today it is possible to purchase almost everything online, there is usually a designated market for every commodity. For instance, people drive to city outskirts and farmlands to purchase Christmas trees, visit the local timber market to buy wood and other necessary material for home furniture and renovations, and go to stores like Walmart for their regular grocery supplies.
The stock market refers to the collection of markets and exchanges where regular activities of buying, selling, and issuance of shares of publicly-held companies take place. Such financial activities are conducted through institutionalized formal exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) marketplaces which operate under a defined set of regulations. There can be multiple stock trading venues in a country or a region which allow transactions in stocks and other forms of securities.
Stock brokers are people or firms licensed to buy and sell stocks and other securities via the stock market exchanges. Back in the day, the only way for individuals to invest directly in stocks was to hire stock brokers to place trades on their behalf. But what was once a clunky, costly transaction conducted via landline telephones now takes place online in seconds, for a fraction of what full-service brokers used to charge for the service. Today, most investors place their trades through an online brokerage account. (A little lost? Check out our explainers on brokerage accounts and buying stocks.)
Those exchanges allow the purchase of cryptocurrency either via a card payment, or via a wire transfer / SEPA deposit from your bank account. They will also require some sort of identification because they are bound by financial laws related to customer due diligence and AML (anti money laundering) legislation. You may be asked to provide identification information such as an ID card, a passport or a proof of address. Note that some sites have different thresholds to buy cryptocurrency or withdraw fiat currency to your bank account based on the level of identification info you have provided. If you are into this seriously, make sure to provide the info necessary to the level you want to reach in time, not at the last minute when you want to liquidate your positions (or said differently, when you want to cash out).
Though it is called a stock market or equity market and is primarily known for trading stocks/equities, other financial securities - like exchange traded funds (ETF), corporate bonds and derivatives based on stocks, commodities, currencies, and bonds - are also traded in the stock markets. (For related reading, see "What's the Difference Between the Equity Market and the Stock Market?")
A stock's market capitalization (cap) is the sum of the total shares outstanding multiplied by price. For example, if a company has 1 million outstanding shares priced at $50, its market cap would be $50 million. It has more meaning than the share price because it allows you to evaluate a company in the context of similar-sized companies in its industry. A small-cap company with a capitalization of $500 million shouldn't be compared to a large-cap company worth more than $10 billion. Here are how companies are generally grouped:
To trade stocks online successfully, some stock traders rely purely on their trading tools. Trading platforms come in one of three forms: desktop, web (browser), or mobile. Advanced charting, scanning, hotkeys, virtual trading, watch lists, ladder trading, Level II quotes, and backtesting are just a sampling of the features some brokers offer. To compare trading platform features, use the online brokerage comparison tool.
A person who feels negative about the market is called a “bear,” while their positive counterpart is called a “bull.” During market hours, the constant battle between the bulls and the bears is reflected in the constantly changing price of securities. These short-term movements are driven by rumors, speculations, and hopes – emotions – rather than logic and a systematic analysis of the company’s assets, management, and prospects.

Altcoins are tied to the Bitcoin markets, if Bitcoin takes a hit there’s a high probability that altcoins will also suffer, so you’re looking at that moment to jump in: when others are panic selling, you should be investing. Also, there is a sort of tidal lock between altcoins and Bitcoin. Never take a green market (prices going up) for your preferred project finally breaking through. It could just be that the rise of Bitcoin price brings everything up organically, so you may be advise to check whether your project’s value in Bitcoin (not in US dollars or any other fiat currency) has changed or if it has stayed more or less the same. This is usually visible on cryptocurrency only exchanges where Bitcoin is often the de-facto main exchange currency.


While both terms - stock market and stock exchange - are used interchangeably, the latter term is generally a subset of the former. If one says that she trades in the stock market, it means that she buys and sells shares/equities on one (or more) of the stock exchange(s) that are part of the overall stock market. The leading stock exchanges in the U.S. include the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Nasdaq, and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). These leading national exchanges, along with several other exchanges operating in the country, form the stock market of the U.S.

Balanced Regulation: Listed companies are largely regulated and their dealings are monitored by market regulators, like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the U.S. Additionally, exchanges also mandate certain requirements – like, timely filing of quarterly financial reports and instant reporting of any relevant developments - to ensure all market participants become aware of corporate happenings. Failure to adhere to the regulations can lead to suspension of trading by the exchanges and other disciplinary measures.


The cryptocurrency market, while far from being in its infancy, is an extremely volatile market which is not subject to regulations, and thus can be subject to manipulations of all kind. There are many trends which impact operations on a daily basis: rumours can fuel the price of one cryptocurrency, some people or groups can apply « pump and dump » techniques etc. I will try to cover these, but please take good note of the following warning:
There are two types of brokers: full-service and discount. Full-service brokers tailor recommendations and charge higher fees, service charges, and commissions. Most investors are willing to pay these higher fees because of the research and resources these companies provide. With a discount broker, the majority of research falls on the investor; they just provide a platform to perform trades and customer support when needed. Newer investors can benefit from the resources provided by full-service brokers, while frequent traders and experienced investors who perform their own research may lean towards platforms with no commission fee.
Stockbrokers, also known as registered representatives in the U.S., are the licensed professionals who buy and sell securities on behalf of investors. The brokers act as intermediaries between the stock exchanges and the investors by buying and selling stocks on the investors' behalf. An account with a retail broker is needed to gain access to the markets.
Balanced Regulation: Listed companies are largely regulated and their dealings are monitored by market regulators, like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the U.S. Additionally, exchanges also mandate certain requirements – like, timely filing of quarterly financial reports and instant reporting of any relevant developments - to ensure all market participants become aware of corporate happenings. Failure to adhere to the regulations can lead to suspension of trading by the exchanges and other disciplinary measures.
A local financial regulator or competent monetary authority or institute is assigned the task of regulating the stock market of a country. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the regulatory body charged with overseeing the U.S. stock markets. The SEC is a federal agency that works independently of the government and political pressure. The mission of the SEC is stated as: "to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation."

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Building a diversified portfolio is the priority for beginners who should consider adding index funds that capture the broader market, Swope says. Mutual funds and ETFs are the easiest solutions since they own hundreds to thousands of stocks and are less volatile than individual stocks. ETFs tend to have low minimums, allowing investors to spread their first $10,000 between a few funds and gain access to a variety of areas in the market, he says.

Insider trading: this is formally forbidden and punished in regular markets by stock exchanges organisations, but since crypto markets are unregulated, there is no way to apply any control here. Insider trading is when you have insider information about a project before anyone else or before the news hits the public, and you can thus acquire or sell a lot of cryptocurrency before the news break, allowing you to make huge profits, or to minimalise your losses.
It’s all fun and games until the taxman passes. There is no clear legislation on taxes and it varies on per case and per country basis. My personal recommendation is to declare the money you cash out on your tax form. This would normally be taxed as « financial income money », just like if you sold shares or cashed out money from the income of your own company (like when you get paid dividends). Example: 15% financial income tax. You cash out 10000 EUR, you get taxed 15% on this.
It is also worth trying to keep up to date with the latest thinking related to the area of investment that you are trying to specialise in. Therefore, if you plan to invest in defensive or income stocks, for example, it would be wise to read regularly about value investing and dividends. If you plan to invest in growth stocks, it would be wise to read about technology and the latest trends. Perhaps you could subscribe to one or more trade publications that relate to the sector(s) that you are most interested in.
If the strategy is within your risk limit, then testing begins. Manually go through historical charts to find your entries, noting whether your stop loss or target would have been hit. Paper trade in this way for at least 50 to 100 trades, noting whether the strategy was profitable and if it meets your expectations. If it does, proceed to trading the strategy in a demo account in real time. If it's profitable over the course of two months or more in a simulated environment, proceed with day trading the strategy with real capital. If the strategy isn't profitable, start over.
Pro tip: Another way to make sure your portfolio is diversified is to invest if different types of investments. Some people like to mix things up by investing in fine art through Masterworks. Fun fact – blue chip art returned 10.6% in 2018 compared to a 5.1% loss for the S&P 500. Others choose to invest in real estate through a company like DiversyFund.
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