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When you have finished this page, try the Stocks and Bonds Quiz.

What does it mean to own stock? Basically it means that a stock holder has a share in the company it holds stock in. In a sense the stockholders own a piece of the company that it has stock in. Stock shares are traded, bought and sold at a stock exchange such as the New York Stock Exchange which is the best known, but by no means the only stock exchange. Stocks are a type of security, Securities are instruments giving to their legal holders rights to money or other property. Securities include stocks, bonds, notes and mortgages.

How does one get to own stock? Usually stock is obtained through a stock broker. Let’s say you wish to own a piece of Disney or Coca-Cola. You would call a stock broker and he would tell you how much a share in the company would be. He would then place an order for the stock for you. When the stock is purchased, the broker would keep a stock certificate that shows that you are the legal owner of the stock until you choose to sell it.

What are the advantages of owning stock? One is that it allows the stock owner to share in the profits of a company. These profits come in the form of dividends, which are allocated according to how much stock one holds in the company. Of course one of the disadvantages is that one can lose money if a stock’s price goes down.

What makes stock prices go up and down? There are many reasons: how much profit or loss a company has, the time of year, good or bad publicity about the company, how the economy is doing in general, etc..

There are several different kinds of stock. Preferred stock is a type of stock in which the stockholder gets a certain percentage of dividends each year based on the profits of the company. Common stockholders get dividends based on the remainder of the profits after preferred stockholders have been paid their dividends.

Another way to purchase stocks is through mutual funds. A mutual fund is an investment company that continually offers new shares and buys existing shares back at the request of the shareholder and uses its capital to invest in diversified securities of other companies. An investor puts money into a mutual fund and then the company invests the money on behalf of the investors.

What are bonds and how do they differ from stocks? A bond is a certificate of debt issued by a government or corporation guaranteeing payment of the original investment plus interest by a specified future date. Basically one is making a loan to the government or corporation and gets paid a sum of money in the future for letting the government or corporation borrow the money. Bonds are one way the government raises money besides taxes.

Visit the Forbes Stock Market Listings to Learn About Various Stocks.

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