What's the Difference Between the Equity Market and the Stock Market? (2024)

The terms equity market and stock market are synonymous. Both refer to the purchase and sale of ownership shares in public companies through any of the many stock exchanges and over-the-counter markets in the U.S. and around the world.

A share of stock represents an equity interest in a company. That is, the investor is buying an ownership stake in the company in the expectation of receiving a share of the profits in the form of dividends, or benefiting from the growth of its stock price, or both.

Key Takeaways

  • The buyer of a share of stock is buying an ownership or equity interest in a company.
  • Stock owners share in a company's success via dividend payments or price growth or both.
  • Equity market is a broad term for many stock exchanges around the world that match buyers and sellers of stocks.

Equity Capital

To a company, selling shares is a way to raise cash to expand the business. In order to do so, it lists its stock on one of the stock exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq, or the London Stock Exchange. The process of listing a new stock issue in the U.S. is long and arduous, as it includes detailed financial filings that meet the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

An alternative for a company in search of financing is issuing bonds. A bond is a form of debt that is repaid over time with interest. Most public companies over time issue both stock shares and bonds.

Generally, the stock exchanges are referred to as the equity markets, while the trade in bonds is referred to as the debt market.

Types of Stock

There are two primary types of stock that companies issue: common stock and preferred stock. The trade in common stock is far more active, and when a stock price is quoted it always refers to the price of a single share of common stock.

Owners of common stock shares usually are entitled to exercise their voting rights regarding a company's board of directors and other important company decisions. They may or may not get regular dividends. The board decides at least annually whether it will pay a dividend and how much it will pay based on the company's latest revenue.

Preferred Shares: Guaranteed Dividends

Preferred stock owners do not usually have voting rights. However, preferred stock shares are issued with a guaranteed payment at regular intervals of larger dividends than common stockholders receive. Shares of preferred stocks do not tend to rise or fall in price as sharply as common shares over time. Investors value them for their dividends, not for their potential for growth. It is important to note, however, that dividends in preferred shares can be suspended, but only in the case that it is suspended for common shares. In other words, the preferred shareholders must get paid first, before a common dividend is considered.

That makes preferred stock shares a kind of hybrid of a stock and a bond. Preferred stock shares are sometimes convertible into common stock shares under specific conditions.

The equity interest of preferred stockholders takes precedence over the interest of common stockholders in the event that the company goes into liquidation.

Investopedia does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circ*mstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

What's the Difference Between the Equity Market and the Stock Market? (2024)


What's the Difference Between the Equity Market and the Stock Market? ›

The terms equity market and stock market are synonymous. Both refer to the purchase and sale of ownership shares in public companies through any of the many stock exchanges and over-the-counter markets in the U.S. and around the world. A share of stock represents an equity interest in a company.

Is the equity market the same as the stock market? ›

Equity market, often called as stock market or share market, is a place where shares of companies or entities are traded. The market allows sellers and buyers to deal in equity or shares in the same platform. In the global context, equities are traded either over the counter or at stock exchanges.

What is the difference between equity and stock? ›

The main difference is that while equities represent a stake in a company, tradable or not, stocks are generally tradable equity shares of a company that can be issued to the general public through stock exchanges.

Is the stock market an equity? ›

Simply put, stocks are market-traded shares of a company and are sometimes called 'equities'. This is not to be confused with 'equity' which refers to ownership in a company.

Which is better stock market or share market? ›

Sometimes the share market is also referred to as the stock market. People commonly use the two terms interchangeably. However, the share market only facilitates the trading of shares. Whereas, the stock market allows trading of various types of securities like forex, derivatives, and bonds among others.

What is equity market in simple words? ›

What Is an Equity Market? An equity market is a market in which shares of companies are issued and traded, either through exchanges or over-the-counter markets. Also known as the stock market, it is one of the most vital areas of a market economy.

What are the 4 types of share market? ›

The four types of share markets are the primary market (for new securities), the secondary market (for existing securities), the equity market (for stocks), and the derivatives market (for financial contracts based on underlying assets).

What is an example of an equity market? ›

Some of the most well-known and largest equity markets are: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) – United States. Nasdaq (NASDAQ) – United States.

Is a stock a debt or equity? ›

The debt and equity markets serve different purposes. First, debt market instruments (like bonds) are loans, while equity market instruments (like stocks) are ownership in a company. Second, in returns, debt instruments pay interest to investors, while equities provide dividends or capital gains.

Is it good to invest in equity? ›

The main benefit from an equity investment is the possibility to increase the value of the principal amount invested. This comes in the form of capital gains and dividends. An equity fund offers investors a diversified investment option typically for a minimum initial investment amount.

What is the largest stock market in the world? ›

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is the world's largest stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street, New York City, USA.

Why are stocks called equities? ›

Equities: This word can be used as a synonym for stocks, or for a specific company's stock. Remember that "equity" describes ownership, and stocks are essentially small positions of ownership in a company. Home equity: This is the value of your ownership stake in your home, as we described above.

How do you make money from equity? ›

You can convert equity to cash through either a sale or a loan, which can then be used in multiple ways, including investments in stocks, bonds, real estate, and business opportunities. By converting equity to opportunity, you can grow your total assets and sources of income.

What is 100 shares of stock called? ›

In stocks, a round lot is considered 100 shares or a larger number that can be evenly divided by 100. In bonds, a round lot is usually $100,000 worth. A round lot is often referred to as a normal trading unit and is contrasted with an odd lot.

Can I buy 1 share of stock? ›

There is no minimum order limit on the purchase of a publicly-traded company's stock. Investors may consider buying fractional shares through a dividend reinvestment plan or DRIP, which don't have commissions.

Should you keep money in stock market? ›

Saving is generally seen as preferable for investors with short-term financial goals, a low risk tolerance, or those in need of an emergency fund. Investing may be the best option for people who already have a rainy-day fund and are focused on longer-term financial goals or those who have a higher risk tolerance.

Is equity better than stock options? ›

Stock options don't represent ownership unless your right to buy them has vested. In comparison, equity investment means ownership in a business. You buy equity after your stocks trade at a particular value. You do this with the hope the price will continue to rise, increasing the value of your position.

Is equity a profit or loss? ›

Equity, as we have seen, has various meanings but usually represents ownership in an asset or a company, such as stockholders owning equity in a company. ROE is a financial metric that measures how much profit is generated from a company's shareholder equity.

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