A stock exchange is an institution which provides a platform for buying and selling of existing securities. As a market, the stock exchange facilitates the exchange of a security (share, debenture, etc.) into money and vice versa. Stock exchanges help companies raise finance, provide liquidity and safety of investment to the investors and enhance the creditworthiness of individual companies. Meaning of Stock Exchange According to Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act 1956, stock exchange means any body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, constituted for the purpose of assisting, regulating or controlling the business of buying and selling or dealing in securities. Functions of a Stock Exchange The efficient functioning of a stock exchange creates a conducive climate for an active and growing primary market for new issues. An active and healthy secondary market in existing securities leads to a positive environment among investors. The following are some of the important functions of a stock exchange.
1. Providing Liquidity and Marketability to Existing Securities: The basic function of a stock exchange is the creation of a continuous market where securities are bought and sold. It gives investors the chance to disinvest and reinvest. This provides both liquidity and easy marketability to already existing securities in the market.
2. Pricing of Securities: Share prices on a stock exchange are determined by the forces of demand and supply. A stock exchange is a mechanism of constant valuation through which the prices of securities are determined. Such a valuation provides important instant information to both buyers and sellers in the market.
3. Safety of Transaction: The membership of a stock exchange is well-regulated and its dealings are well defined according to the existing legal framework. This ensures that the investing public gets a safe and fair deal on the market.
4. Contributes to Economic Growth: A stock exchange is a market in which existing securities are resold or traded. Through this process of disinvestment and reinvestment savings get channelized into their most productive investment avenues. This leads to capital formation and economic growth.
5. Spreading of Equity Cult: The stock exchange can play a vital role in ensuring wider share ownership by regulating new issues, better trading practices and taking effective steps in educating the public about investments. History of the Stock Market in India The history of the stock market in India goes back to the end of the eighteenth century when long-term negotiable securities were first issued. In 1850 the Companies Act was introduced for the first time bringing with it the feature of limited liability and generating investor interest in corporate securities. The first stock exchange in India was set-up in 1875 as The Native Share and Stock Brokers Association in Bombay. Today it is known as the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). This was followed by the development of exchanges in Ahmedabad (1894), Calcutta(1908) and Madras(1937). It is interesting to note that stock exchanges were first set up in major centers of trade and commerce. Until the early 1990s, the Indian secondary market comprised regional stock exchanges with BSE heading the list. After the reforms of 1991, the Indian secondary market acquired a three-tier form. This consists of
6. Providing Scope for Speculation: The stock exchange provides sufficient scope within the provisions of law for speculative activity in a restricted and controlled manner. It is generally accepted that a certain degree of healthy speculation is necessary to ensure liquidity and price continuity in the stock market.
The efficient functioning of a stock exchange creates a conducive climate for an active and growing primary market following are the important functions of a stock exchange