The American Stock Exchange

The American Stock Exchange, or Amex, was the third largest stock exchange in the United States by the turn of the 21st century, trailing only the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ stock market. Hundreds of companies are listed on the Amex with hundreds of billions of dollars in market value. The American Stock Exchange had its early origins somewhere around 1849 in the financial district of New York City. Brokers would meet in the street corner and discuss and trade stocks and bonds. In 1908, these brokers formed an organization called the New York Curb Agency.

The New York Curb Exchange

By the early 1920s, the incessant roar of activity outside necessitated a move for the Agency indoors. In 1921 the group moved into the building where it is still located today. The Amex was called the New York Curb Exchange from 1929 until 1953. At that time, it took on the name of the American Stock Exchange. In its earlier years, the Amex became the home of stocks for companies who did not meet the standards of the NYSE. But as time went by, the Amex's own standards continued to rise until they finally surpassed those of the NYSE. The American Stock Exchange around this time began introducing its own securities standards and rules of admission for exchange members [1].

Amex Merges with NASD, NYSE

In 1998, the American Stock Exchange entered into a merger with the NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers), the group that manages the NASDAQ stock market. Even after the merger these two companies continued operating as separate and distinct entities. The identity of the Amex remained unique. In fact, less than six years later the American Stock Exchange Member Corporation transferred control of the Amex back to its members.

In January 2008, the Amex was acquired by NYSE Euronext, itself a company created by a previous merger. Due to increased competition between the exchanges, additional mergers are expected in the years to come. The American Stock Exchange was bought by NYSE Euronext for $260 million worth of stock and the exchange was rebranded the NYSE Amex Equities [1].

Amex and Derivatives Trading

Aside from the trading of stocks and bonds, the American Stock Exchange has been long known as an innovator in the area of derivatives trading. Derivatives are investments based on the performance of an underlying investment or index. To better understand derivatives as a concept, it is good to bring out an example of a derivative that is traded on the Amex. Standard & Poor's Depository Receipts are derivatives which are tied directly to the performance of the S&P 500 index. They are traded just like stocks, but their value (as measured with methods such as Black Sholes options pricing) goes up and down with the performance of the entire index.

The average daily trading volume on the American Stock Exchange was anywhere from 30 to 50 million shares, or around a billion shares per month. Like other securities exchanges, the Amex is an auction market. Here the prices for stocks, options, EFTs, derivatives, and other products are all determined through the public's willingness to pay. In other words, public offers to buy and sell products at certain prices are what drives price. The Amex is looked upon as a leader in the selling of EFTs (exchange traded funds).

Even after being absorbed by NYSE Euronext, the American Stock Exchange continues to carve out its own distinctive identity in the financial markets of the U.S. in an age of mergers, being acquired is not a death knell. The Amex keeps moving forward with each new day.

[1] Retrieved 2010-05-31.


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