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What is the American Stock Exchange?

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  • Written By: K. Wascher
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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The American Stock Exchange (AMEX), which in 2008 became the NYSE Amex Equities Exchange, was historically the third largest stock exchange in the US. Based in New York, the exchange handles nearly 10 percent of the nation's stock, commodity, and securities trades through the several hundred companies listed on the exchange. The American Stock Exchange has typically been viewed favorably by some smaller businesses. Since the American Stock Exchange's regulations and requirements were historically less strict than other exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange or the NASDAQ, smaller organizations were able to list their companies as public offerings when they would have otherwise been excluded.

The American Stock Exchange traces its roots to the early 1800s, when new enterprises found themselves excluded from larger exchanges due to strict mandates and regulations. For example, many companies and organizations were required to issue a minimum of 100 shares or securities to trade in the major exchange organizations. The smaller businesses and corporations that began to emerge in the oil and manufacturing industries in the early part of the 19th century were able to publicly trade stocks through individual brokers who conducted stock auctions in the streets. This allowed smaller businesses to expand, using the revenue brought in through stock sales when they would have otherwise been excluded from doing so at other exchanges.

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In the early part of the 20th century, efforts were made to consolidate and organize street trading. One man, Emanuel Mendels, was particularly instrumental in this undertaking. In 1908, he established the New York Curb Exchange, renamed the American Stock Exchange in 1953. The New York Curb Exchange promulgated rules and regulations for stock trades, which added legitimacy and credibility to this alternative exchange. The American Stock Exchange continued to operate an an independent exchange throughout the 20th century.

In 2008, the American Stock Exchange merged with the NYSE Euronext Group. This group of exchanges offers global trade and exchange organization services by combining the New York Stock Exchange and Euronext organizations. The merger consolidated the major global markets into one unified exchange system. The former American Stock Exchange now operates on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange under the name NYSE AMEX Equities Exchange, a subsection of the NYSE Euronext Group.

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