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Know the Stock Markets - Say Hello to Profits

By: Paul Hegarty

The stock market is like a gregarious, uncertain beast – you can never predict which turn it's going to take or which direction it is headed for. Having said that, let us also admit that the stock market is one of the most exciting markets in the world that can make your fortunes if you play it right.

And, if you want to play the stock market right, you have to figure out how it ticks. Here then are basics and fundamentals of a stock market that will clue you on:

What Is A Stock Market?

A stock market is a trading place where you can buy and sell stock (shares) issued by a company. Alternatively, you can also trade in several derivative products, which are basically financial instruments in the form of contracts, where the parties to the contract agree to exchange payments based on the value of a share at a future date.

Stock Market Trading Explained

Many individuals and entities trade in the stock market. Small investors, day traders who square up their transactions on the same day, investment/financial companies, banks, hedge funds, individuals with a high net worth, institutions, mutual funds – all are involved in stock market trading.

These individuals and entities place their buy or sell orders through a market intermediary, called the stockbroker. Majority of the transactions are routed through a network of computers that execute orders in a matter of seconds.

Stock Market Strategies

In the stock market, you can buy and sell the stocks you own. Besides this, there are several strategies such as short-selling, which means you do not own the stock, but sell it nevertheless (by borrowing it from your broker at a fee) because you feel its price is going to drop – and when the price does drop, you buy it back. Plus, you can buy or sell stocks at a future date if you trade in the derivatives market. Then, you can also indulge in margin buying, which in simple terms means you borrow money to buy stocks, thereby exposing yourself to debt.

Stock Market Index

The stock market index is a value, determined by the stock exchange authorities, that reflects the market's movement. This value is based on a handful of high-volume and reputed stocks – these are weighed and a number is given to them. This number or value fluctuates according to the movement in the prices of these stocks and this is what indices such as the Dow Jones, the NASDAQ, the S & P (Standard & Poor) are all about.

Methods That Influence Investment Decisions

There are two methods that can influence investment decisions in a stock market: (i) Fundamental analysis is a method, wherein the companies past and current performance is analyzed along with the factors that will affect its future profitability. Medium-long term investors invest on the basis of fundamental analysis. (ii) Technical analysis is another method that studies the correlation of price and volumes over a span of time and then gives a buy or a sell signal on the basis of this correlation.

There, those were basics of the stock market. If you want to trade successfully, then you have to understand how the stock market works, because there is no other way, no other shortcut. Happy trading.

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