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Whether you are a trader or not, it is highly likely that you have encountered the words “stock” or “shares” in the past. They could have come up in the news as the reporters cover the highest-trading stocks or the stocks of the companies that have experienced losses, or you could have simply encountered them as you were binge-watching a big Hollywood blockbuster in which they mention Wall Street and the stock market. Either way, stocks or shares might not be foreign concepts to many people, but did you ever take the moment to think about what they actually mean, how they function, and more?
Stocks are the shares into which ownership of the company is divided. Those who own stocks are called stockholders or shareholders. The ownership of shares entitles stockholders to a fraction of the company's assets and earnings (proportional to the number of shares owned). Stocks are usually traded in stock markets.
Companies go public and issue stocks in order to raise money to invest in their business and help it grow.
Here are some of the reasons behind why companies might decide to issue shares:
Investors, on the other hand, buy stocks to try to make money and diversify their investments. This is because while investors pay a company money in order to buy its shares, the company grants them access to voting rights and a fraction of its profits. They invest in stocks because it renders many benefits which include:
Nonetheless, investors should keep in mind that stock prices fluctuate, which means that the value of the company either increase or decrease. , hence it can also incur losses.
In order to trade shares, individual investors usually turn to brokers (nowadays it’s often an online broker) like Plus500 Invest, who can execute the trades on their behalf.
In addition to investing in stocks, traders can also get exposure to shares through trading Stock Contracts for Difference (CFDs) with Plus500. As opposed to regular stock investing, Stock CFDs, do not give you ownership of shares. Instead, they are a way of speculating on the future direction of the underlying share price thus allowing traders to even trade in falling markets. CFDs allow you to settle for the price difference between the open and close rates. Trading CFDs on shares means that traders get access to leveraged trading which means that they can possibly increase their gains with an initially small capital, and they can get access to multiple and more diverse financial markets. However, it is also important to realize that trading CFDs comes with many risks; trading with leverage can magnify potential profits, but can also magnify potential losses as well. You can read more about CFD trading here.
Both contracts for difference and share trading offer ways to take advantage of price movements in financial markets, and both can form part of your portfolio.
In short, stock CFDs trading and investing are two different things. Whereas the former is usually done in hopes of making gains in the short-term, the latter is done by investors who hope to make gains in the longer run. Therefore, whether you want to invest in stocks or trade stocks CFDs depends on your goal and financial vision. You can read more about the differences between the two here.
Stocks are usually traded in stock exchanges, which provide a marketplace for buying and selling stocks. Stock exchanges track the supply and demand for the stocks of every corporation, from which the price of the particular shares are derived. These are the largest stock exchanges and their market capitalisation as of December 2021:
Each exchange has its own list of requirements that corporations must adhere to in order to be listed there. The requirements are usually related to number of shares, market capitalisation and earnings over the past few years.
In order to choose where to list, companies take various factors into account, such as:
The exchange where the stock is listed affects the trading hours of the particular stock. Most exchanges have a fixed schedule with particular opening and closing times, adapted to the local time. Some markets offer pre-market and after-hours trading as well.
Plus500 offers an alternative way to trade Stocks, through Contracts for Difference (CFDs). This gives traders the ability to use leverage to speculate on price movements of leading companies without actually having to invest large sums in the underlying security. This will amplify any profits, but it also means that losses are amplified. With some CFD providers this may involve losing more than your initial deposit.
With CFD stock trading you can either open a BUY position or a SELL position, depending on whether you think the stock price will rise or fall. This gives you the possibility to profit on both rising or falling markets. However, it must be remembered that CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.