Stock trading

It has been over two centuries since securities traders began meeting under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street. The New York Stock Exchange’s columned neo-Classical building is as instantly recognisable as the ceremonial ringing of the opening and closing bells. But things have changed. Investment is no longer contained by national boundaries, and operations are regularly executed electronically. Into the crowded fray come new and more complicated financial instruments.

If the exchange’s corporate parent, the NYSE Group, is going to keep up, it will have to embrace change. Last year the company announced its acquisition of the electronic trading network Archipelago. Now it has reached a deal for the cross-border European exchange company Euronext. If approved by regulators and shareholders, it would be the first trans-Atlantic market, though the rival Nasdaq has already bought up a 25 per cent stake in the London Stock Exchange. Rather than leading the way, the exchanges are catching up to the reality of internationalised investing.

An era of global trading could benefit from international exchanges. Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic should take a cue and speed up the process of bringing their rules into harmony. There’s no time to lose. The financial markets never sleep. — The New York Times