Equity Market Explained: How It Works, Types, and Examples

What is an Equity Market?

Equity markets operate on the principle of supply and demand. The price of a stock is determined by the forces of supply and demand, with buyers bidding for shares at a certain price and sellers offering their shares at a certain price. The interaction between buyers and sellers ultimately determines the market price of a stock.

Investors can participate in equity markets through various means, including buying individual stocks, investing in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), or trading options and futures contracts. Each method offers different levels of risk and potential return.

What is Equity?

Equity represents ownership in a company. When you own equity in a company, you have a claim on its assets and earnings. This ownership is divided into shares, which are then traded on equity markets.

How do Equity Markets Work?

Equity markets function as a marketplace where buyers and sellers come together to trade shares. These markets can be physical exchanges, where traders gather in a specific location, or electronic exchanges, where trading is done electronically.

When a company decides to go public and offer its shares to the public, it undergoes an initial public offering (IPO). During an IPO, the company sells a portion of its ownership to investors in the form of shares. These shares are then listed on an equity market, allowing investors to buy and sell them.

Market Participants

Equity markets involve various participants, including:

1. Investors:

Investors are individuals or institutions who buy and sell shares in the equity market. They can be retail investors, such as individual traders, or institutional investors, such as mutual funds, pension funds, and hedge funds.

2. Companies:

2. Companies:

Companies are the entities that issue shares and offer them to the public. They can be newly established companies looking to raise capital or established companies looking to expand their ownership base.

3. Brokers and Exchanges:

Brokers act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers in the equity market. They facilitate the buying and selling of shares on behalf of investors. Exchanges provide the platform for trading and ensure fair and transparent transactions.

Factors Affecting Equity Markets

Equity markets are influenced by various factors, including:

1. Economic Conditions:

The overall economic conditions, such as GDP growth, inflation rates, and interest rates, can impact equity markets. Positive economic indicators often lead to increased investor confidence and higher stock prices.

2. Company Performance:

The financial performance of individual companies can significantly affect their stock prices. Strong earnings, revenue growth, and positive news can drive up stock prices, while poor performance can lead to declines.

3. Investor Sentiment:

Investor sentiment, which reflects the overall attitude and perception of investors towards the market, can influence equity markets. Positive sentiment can lead to increased buying activity, while negative sentiment can result in selling pressure.

Types of Equity Markets

1. Primary Equity Market

The primary equity market is where companies issue new shares to raise capital. This is done through an initial public offering (IPO) or a private placement. In an IPO, the company sells its shares to the public for the first time, while in a private placement, the shares are sold to a select group of investors. The primary equity market is crucial for companies looking to expand their operations or fund new projects.

2. Secondary Equity Market

The secondary equity market is where previously issued shares are bought and sold among investors. This is the market where most trading activity takes place. The secondary equity market provides liquidity to investors, allowing them to buy and sell shares easily. It is also where the price of shares is determined based on supply and demand.

3. National Equity Market

A national equity market refers to the stock market of a specific country. It is regulated by the country’s financial authorities and operates within the legal framework of that country. Examples of national equity markets include the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the United States, the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in the United Kingdom, and the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in Japan. National equity markets play a crucial role in the economy of a country by facilitating capital formation and investment.

4. Global Equity Market

5. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Equity Market

These are just some of the types of equity markets that exist. Each type has its own characteristics and advantages, and investors can choose to participate in the market that best suits their investment goals and risk tolerance.

How Equity Markets Work

When a company decides to go public and offer its shares to the public, it does so through an initial public offering (IPO). During an IPO, the company issues new shares, which are then sold to investors on the primary market. Once the shares are sold on the primary market, they can be traded on the secondary market, which is where most equity market transactions take place.

The secondary market is where investors buy and sell shares among themselves. This is done through brokers, who act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers. Investors can place orders to buy or sell stocks, specifying the quantity and price at which they are willing to trade. These orders are matched by the exchange, and transactions are executed accordingly.

Equity markets operate on the principle of supply and demand. When there is high demand for a particular stock, its price tends to increase. Conversely, when there is low demand, the price may decrease. This price movement is driven by various factors, including company earnings, economic indicators, news events, and investor sentiment.

Investors can participate in equity markets through various means. They can buy individual stocks of specific companies, invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track a specific market index, or invest in mutual funds managed by professional fund managers. Each approach has its own advantages and risks, and investors should carefully consider their investment goals and risk tolerance before making any decisions.

Examples of Equity Markets

Examples of Equity Markets

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

The NYSE is one of the largest and most well-known equity markets in the world. It is located on Wall Street in New York City and has been in operation since 1792. The NYSE lists over 2,800 companies, including many of the world’s largest corporations.


NASDAQ is another major equity market in the United States. It is known for its focus on technology and growth-oriented companies. Many well-known tech companies, such as Apple, Google, and Amazon, are listed on the NASDAQ.

London Stock Exchange (LSE)

The LSE is one of the oldest stock exchanges in the world, dating back to 1571. It is located in London, England, and is home to many international companies. The LSE operates several markets, including the Main Market for large companies and the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) for smaller, growing companies.

Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE)

The TSE is the largest equity market in Japan and one of the largest in Asia. It was established in 1878 and is located in Tokyo. The TSE lists a wide range of companies, including those in the automotive, electronics, and financial sectors.

Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE)

The SSE is one of the two main equity markets in China, along with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. It is located in Shanghai and is one of the largest stock exchanges in the world by market capitalization. The SSE lists companies from various industries, including banking, energy, and technology.

These are just a few examples of equity markets around the world. Each market has its own unique characteristics and regulations, but they all serve the same purpose of facilitating the buying and selling of shares in publicly traded companies.