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The New York Stock Exchange, a subsidiary of NYSE Euronext, is the preeminent exchange for the majority of the stock transactions in the United States. It's trademark bells sounds the opening and closing of trading each day. These bells sound promptly at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time and again at 4 p.m. Eastern time. The bells represent a significant part of the stock exchange's history, dating back to the 1870s.
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) opens daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time. Trading on the floor continues until exactly 4 p.m. Eastern. These times are managed by an atomic clock, and signaled throughout the exchange by audible cues in the form of bells. The NYSE also controls the hours of NYSE Market Equities and NYSE Amex, formerly the American Stock Exchange. These two markets operate during the regular NYSE hours.
NYSE Arca, a fully electronic trading forum, has hours that allow for European tradehouses to link up to several key finance markets, including the NASDAQ exchange. Arca begins accepting limit orders at 3:30 a.m. Eastern time and full trading opens at 4 a.m. For one minute at 9:29 a.m., the market freezes to assess market orders and auction-only orders prior to the true opening at 9:30 a.m. Arca resumes trading until 3:59 p.m. Eastern time, when all orders are frozen again. The exchange will then calculate select orders between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The New York Stock Exchange was founded on May 17, 1792. Originally formed by a group of only 68 traders, the seats on the exchange eventually topped out at 1,366 and were considered very valuable. In 1817, the company created its first constitution and a signing was held beneath a large Buttonwood tree. Thus, the NYSE, at the time called the New York Stock & Board, would be forever governed by the "Buttonwood Agreement." Membership seats at the exchange signaled influence and power in the financial realm. A company could not purchase a seat unless an existing member vacated a membership. The exchange remained this way until April 2006.
By 2000, the NYSE was already taking steps to fully automate trading over an electronic medium. The NYSE, having merged with the Archipelago Stock Exchange, became the NYSE Group, Inc., and converted the "seats" at the exchange to stock in the new company. The NYSE is no longer a membership organization, so any broker can now trade there.
- stock exchange image by Christopher Walker from Fotolia.com