Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

Statistics and facts about the stock market

Learn statistics and facts about world stock markets and benchmark the adoption of equity trading by Canadians with global markets.

What’s hot and what’s not? Over the last few decades, the drive to find the next trend or get in on the ground floor of a budding business prompted greater interest in stock markets and share trading.

It didn’t matter if equities were hitting historical highs or plunging to significant lows as the appetite for better data and deeper insights was almost insatiable — and with good reason. By the end of 2021, the estimated value of global share trading was roughly $56.6 trillion (US$43.5 trillion), according to Statista.(1) The sum is so large, that it’s almost possible to lose sight of how important equities are to our national economy and individual wealth accumulation.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of critical or interesting stock market statistics and facts. The goal is to offer insight and context while highlighting key trends that influence equities trading, market cycles, demographic differences and changing trends while providing insight into the best stock trading platforms and whether or not stock trading is worth it.

Facts about the stock market: Key statistics for the global equities market

928 — The number of stock markets and trading venues, globally (2)
10% — The average stock market return based on a century of data for the S&P 500(3)
59.9% — The US’s share of the world equity market, as of January 2022(4)
2.5% — Canada’s share of the world equity market, as of January 2022(5)
19.5% — Total drop in the value of the global stock market from 2010 to 2020(6)(7)

What is the stock market?

A stock exchange is a marketplace where investors buy and sell stocks, bonds and other exchange-traded securities. World stock markets provide companies and investors with the infrastructure and technology to publicly buy and sell stocks and securities.

Canadians’ confidence in the stock market

In the recent Finder: Consumer Sentiment Survey Q2 2023, more than 1,010 Canadians were asked “Do you think now is a good time to put money into the following?” and then provided a list of products and accounts (multiple responses allowed). Most Canadians (33%) felt that a high-interest savings accounts was the best place to stash cash, while another 32% felt savings plans was the best option, followed by 27% who chose stocks. Less than 1 in 10 (9%) considered forex (foreign currency) investments or term deposits (such as short-term GICs) to be a good investment option, at this point in time.

Drilling deeper into these results, men were more optimistic about stock investments, with 30% under the belief that now was a good time to invest in equities, compared to 23% of women. From a generational perspective, baby boomers were most bearish on stock investments with only 12% considering it a good time to invest in stocks, compared to 35% of Gen Z, 30% of millennials and 21% of Gen X.

Unfortunately, equity market volatility can curtail confidence. Based on survey data released in 2021, from the Finder: Bull vs Bear Market, 24% of Canadians were “not at all confident” in the stock market in 2022, and 37% were unsure about equities, but “planned to stay the course.”

Surprisingly, responses from the Finder: World Stock Market Statistics(8) found that close to half of Canadians (41%) do not invest using the stock market and there continues to be a significant difference in the number of men who invest in stocks versus the number of women.

Age also plays a factor. Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2003) were the least likely to own shares (36%). While Gen X (those born between 1967 and 1976) were the most likely to own stocks.

Based on data from the Finder: World Stock Market Statistics report, 1 in 3 Canadians (34%) had bought or sold shares in 2021, with another 20% planning to do so before year-end. The amount invested also varied:

  • 17% will invest $2,000 or less
  • 6% will invest between $2,001 and $8,000
  • 3% will invest between $8,001 and $15,000
  • 7% will invest $15,000 or more

Facts about the stock market: Canada vs the world

Even when confidence in the equity market falters, Canadians are still investing in stocks. According to a Finder surveyed, released in 2021, Canadians ranked fourth out of 16 countries, to adopt the use of stock trading as part of their investing strategy. (9) Out of the 23,650 people in 16 countries surveyed, Hong Kong investors topped the list with 57% holding stocks, compared to 53% of Singapore investors, 55% of US investors and 39% of Canadian investors.(10)

In an earlier study from Ipsos,(11) released in September 2015, the average investment composition of a Canadian investor showed a preference for equities with 46% of investable assets in shares and share funds. The complete investment composition was, as follows:

  • 34% – Canadian stocks and stock funds
  • 25% – Cash (including bank accounts, money market funds, etc.)
  • 14% – Canadian bonds and bond funds
  • 12% – Foreign stocks, bonds and mutual funds
  • 5% – Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

Are stocks the same as equities?

Equities are the same as stocks. That means as an investor, when you buy equities you are buying shares in a company — or shares in a fund, such as an exchange-traded fund (ETF). The term equity is synonymous with stock because they are both used to describe the money (also known as capital) raised by a company when it sells shares to investors. For that reason, an investor buys equity when they purchase stocks. An investor may also get “equity” when they join a company — meaning they get stock in the company and become part-owners of the business, allowing the employee to earn or lose based on the overall company performance.

Facts about the stock market: Biggest stock exchanges in the world

The biggest stock exchange in the world is the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). As of July 2022, the NYSE had a market cap of just under US$24.7 trillion(12) — more than 670% more than the TSX.

The second-largest stock exchange in the world is the Nasdaq, which is also located in New York. The Nasdaq market cap is US$19.5 trillion.(13)

Facts about the stock market: Biggest stock exchange in Canada

The biggest stock exchange in Canada is the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). Turns out the TSX is also the 10th-largest stock exchange(14) in the world, with a market cap of US$2.97 trillion (CDN$3.86 trillion).(15)

What does market capitalization mean?

Market capitalization — or market cap — refers to the total value of all company stocks currently in the market. The market cap is calculated by taking the share price and multiplying it by the total number of shares issued.

Market capitalization is used as a way to measure the size of a company and to compare global stock exchanges as well as the overall growth trend of each country. Market capitalization trends help investors determine if a country, sector and specific company offer investment opportunities.

Facts about the stock market: Key statistics for the Canadian stock market

48% — Use stock market investments to earn steady and/or passive income(16)
41% — Of investors do not invest in the stock market(17)
1 in 3 — Canadians bought or sold shares in 2021(18)
1 in 4 — Canadians were not confident in the stock market in 2022(19)
5.93% — Average return on the Canadian stock market between 1984 and 2020(20)
3,559 — Number of listed companies on the TSX, as of July 2022(21)
250 — The approximate number of companies included in the S&P/TSX Composite Index(22)
1,500 — Total number of companies listed on the TSX(23)
5.4% — Total income that came from dividend and investment earnings in 2020(24)

The main stock index used by Canadian investors to benchmark their returns is the S&P/TSX Composite Index, which represents approximately 70% of the total market capitalization on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).

TSX listings are grouped into 10 main sectors and products(25):

  1. Energy
  2. Mining
  3. Technology
  4. Life sciences
  5. Clean technology
  6. Diversified industries
  7. International (further broken down to: USA, Latin America, Israel and international)
  8. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
  9. Closed-end funds
  10. Structured notes

According to historical data, certain businesses perform better during recessionary economic conditions or during times of higher inflation.

For instance, the Bank of America (26) lists nine industries that tend to perform well during economic contractions. These include:

  • Candy manufacturers
  • Car repair shops
  • Childcare
  • Niche food stores
  • Freelance and temp work firms
  • Care facilities, such as senior care, nursing and funeral homes
  • Cyclical businesses, such as tax preparation firms, accountants and junk haulers
  • Health and fitness companies, as well as equipment manufacturers
  • ‘Sin’ industries, such as alcohol, tobacco and cannabis

For investors considering how to combat the impact of inflation, Schroders offers some historical analysis and insight.(27) According to the global asset manager, three equity sectors tend to do better during higher inflation:

  • Energy sector, including oil and gas
  • Equity real estate investment trusts (REITs)
  • Utility stocks

A new report, Finder: Bull vs Bear Market,(28) asked more than 1,000 Canadians about their reasons for investing in the stock market. The top five reasons (multiple answers allowed) included:

48% — Earn steady and/or passive income
26% — Long-term saving goals (i.e. retirement, children’s education, etc.)
25% — To use tax-advantaged accounts (i.e. TFSA, RRSP, etc.)
23% — To beat inflation erosion
22% — Because historically stocks always increase in value

To achieve their investment goals, Canadians use a variety of investment products, including several products available through the TSX and other world stock market exchanges, such as:

Best trading platforms for stocks

When it comes to stock trading, almost half (40%) of Canadians prefer to use an online stock trading platform.

Millennials are the biggest online trading platform investors

More than half (53%) of millennials (those born between 1977 and 1996) invest using a stock trading app but boomers — those born between (1946 and 1966) — are not far behind with 42% using an online investing app.

Best online trading platform

In the Finder: World Stock Market survey, more than 1,200 Canadians were asked what trading platform they used in 2021. The same question was asked in 2022 in the Finder: Bull vs Bear Market report. Turns out the popularity of online stock trading platforms can change, as found by the year-over-year results, which listed the best stock trading platforms based on respondent use:

Online Trading PlatformRank in 2021Y-o-Y ChangeRank in 2022Total Marketshare in 2022
Wealthsimple Trade#3Picture not described#129.35%
TD Direct Trading#1Picture not described#220.65%
Questrade#5Picture not described#314.43%
RBC Direct Investing#2Picture not described#412.94%
Scotia iTrade#6Picture not described#510.20%
BMO InvestorLine#4Picture not described#69.20%
Interactive Brokers#7#76.47%
AvaTrade#9Picture not described#85.47%
Q Trade Investor#8Picture not described#94.73%

The biggest market share gain went to Wealthsimple, which took the top spot in 2022, followed by former first-place online trading app, TD Direct Investing (multiple answers were allowed).

There are a variety of reasons that prompt Canadian investors to switch online trading platforms. According to the Finder: Bull vs Bear Market report, here are the biggest reasons for switching trading apps:

How much money is in the stock market?

According to Torsten Slok, chief economist at Apollo Global Management,(29) a US-based private wealth and asset firm, the total value of the global stock market was US$95 trillion in 2020 (approximately CDN$123.56 trillion). Turns out the amount of money in the stock market actually declined over the last decade.

According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI)(30) the business and economic research arm of McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, the amount of money in the stock market in 2010 was US$118 trillion (approximately CDN$153.47 trillion).

This means in just over a decade, the amount of money in the global stock market dropped by 19.5%.

This overall decline in value of the global equities markets won’t surprise seasoned investors given how volatile markets have been in the last decade or so.

At the halfway point of 2022, the broad-based S&P 500 was down over 20%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq had dropped 30%.(31)

While this is significant, it’s a far cry from the 34% drop the blue-chip index experienced in the first quarter of 2020 or the 50% pullback during the 2008–2009 global financial crisis.(32)

The importance of the S&P 500 and benchmarks

The S&P 500 — formally known as the Standard and Poor’s 500 — is the benchmark tracking index for the US stock market performance. It measures the 500 largest companies listed on exchanges in the United States.

Average stock market returns

Most investors benchmark their investment earnings to the S&P 500, which shows an average return of 10% per year, based on nearly a century of data.(33)

Companies with the highest stock market cap

The largest companies in the world, by market capitalization, as of September 2022(34) are:

Global PositionCountryStock TickerCompanyUSD Market Cap (trillions)
#2Saudi Arabia2222.SRSaudi Aramco$2.118
#4USAGOOGAlphabet (Google)$1.321
#81CanadaRYRBC$132.03 billion
#92CanadaTDTD Bank Group$118.70 billion

Stock market cycles: Stock market crash and correction

Like most assets, the stock market goes through run-ups and corrections. When the stock market is on the rise and relatively stable it’s called a “bull market.” When the stock market is in decline or extremely unstable, it’s called a “bear market.”

A stock market crash occurs when there is a significant decline in stock prices.

Significant bear markets and prominent stock market crashes

The difference between a bear market and a stock market crash is based on how rapid the decline is and how long it takes to reach the bottom. In general, bear markets are slow and prolonged with stock market crashes quick and brief.

Since the start of the 20th century, there have been 33 bear markets or stock market crashes throughout the world.(35)

Of those 33, only five are classified as a stock market crash:

  • 1929: Stock market crash (and the start of the Great Depression)
  • 1987: Black Monday crash
  • 2000: Dot-com bubble burst
  • 2008: Global financial crisis
  • 2020: Coronavirus crash

Measuring Market Cycles and Predicting a Stock Market Crash

Despite volatility and uncertainties, most experts agree that equity holdings are an essential component of an investment strategy, particularly when a long-term time horizon is in effect.

That’s because stock market holdings are an effective inflation hedge — and these market shares that represent real assets have successfully hedged against inflation for over a century.

One method of assessing the relative value of shares is through the CAPE ratio — also known as the Shiller P/E or PE 10 ratio. The acronym is the Cyclically-Adjusted Price-to-Earnings ratio, which is calculated by dividing a company’s stock price by the average of the company’s earnings for the last ten years, and then adjusted for inflation.

Economists, portfolio managers and financial analysts use the CAPE ratio to assess long-term financial performance while isolating the impact of current and historical economic cycles. (For experienced investors, the CAPE Ratio is a variation of the Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratio, and similar to the P/E ratio, the aim of the CAPE ratio to determine whether a stock is over- or undervalued.

In general, a very high CAPE ratio means a stock price is much higher than the company’s earnings and is a flag that the stock price is overvalued.

However, the big reason why financial analysts use the CAPE ratio is that, in the past, the ratio has proved to be effective in predicting potential equity market bubbles and potential market crashes.

For instance, the historical CAPE ratio average for the S&P 500 is between 15 and 16. However, the CAPE ratio climbed to a high of 44 in the mid-2000s, at the height of the dot-com bubble, and reached above 30 in 1929, before the Wall Street crash (and the start of the Great Depression), in 2007 just before the global financial crisis and in December 2021 when it reached 39. As of September 2022, the CAPE ratio sits at 29.(36)

Why is the stock market down?

The stock market can rise and fall based on a number of factors but the most prominent reasons include speculation, panic selling, FOMO (fear of missing out) buying and economic bubbles.

While there is no official threshold for what qualifies as a stock market crash, most experts agree that a rapid double-digit percentage decline in a stock index, such as the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), over a quick period, such as a day or week, is typical of a stock crash. As a result, most analysts consider a drop in value of 10% or more to be the threshold for a stock market crash.

The September Effect

Historically, September is the month with the poorest stock market returns. Known as the September Effect,(37) the trend is based on data that goes back to 1950 and shows the average monthly decline for the DJIA — also known as the Dow 30, is a stock market index that tracks 30 large, publicly-owned blue-chip companies trading on the NYSE — is 0.8%, while the S&P 500 experiences an average monthly decline of 0.5%.

The September Effect trend is not isolated to the US, but the overall impact of these global market losses has been on the decline since 1990. When factoring in monthly declines from 1928 to 2021, the average market loss, in September, is 1%. However, when only the last 25 years of data are used, the average monthly loss is only 0.4%.(38)

It’s uncertain as to why this market anomaly persists, but experts believe that a number of factors may contribute to this ongoing trend, including:

  • Summer months usually experience lighter trading volumes
  • Investors tend to re-position their holdings in September, prompting an increase in share trading and a decrease in stock prices
  • Increased selling pressure as mutual fund managers cash in their holdings to harvest tax losses,(39) since many funds end their fiscal year in September (this also prompts a more minor November Effect (40) trend since mutual funds also harvest losses in November, ahead of their December fiscal year-end)

The Monday Effect

What day of the week is best to buy stocks? According to Investopedia,(41) active traders believe that Monday is the best day of the week to trade equities, because of the Monday Effect.

The tendency for stocks to drop in value on Monday is due to a variety of factors, but, in particular, as a response to the trend for companies to release negative news on a Friday afternoon or evening,(42) prompting a sell-off on Mondays.

Celebrity day traders and figuring out if stock trading is worth it

In recent years, active stock trading has become a popular pastime, with TikTok and YouTube personalities achieving some fame and notoriety for their strategies and stock picks. Turns out many of these influencers have no formal training — no formal education as financial advisers and no background in economics or professional investing. Yet, the personalities and picks of these day-trading celebrities are prompting a trend among younger investors to get into stock trading.

In 2021, the total number of users at the top six online brokerages in the US surpassed 100 million. The biggest gainers are the investing apps that target younger investors, such as Robinhood Financial LLC. According to data released by Robinhood,(43) accounts grew from 7.2 million in March 2020 to 18 million in March 2021.

According to the Wall Street Journal,(44) the most influential day trading influencers are:

  1. MeetKevin, led by Kevin Paffrath
  2. Whiteboard Finance, led by Marko Zlatic
  3. Jack Spencer
  4. Tori Dunlop (@herfirst100k)
  5. CamTheMan, led by Cameron Newell

Yet, with the volatility and risk of potential declines, some investors question if stock trading is worth it. For most, the answer depends on the approach taken and whether or not the individual is investing or trading stock.

Definition of trading stock

A strategy of trading where the goal is to earn quick returns based on short-term fluctuations in the market.

Definition of investing in the stock market

A strategy of using equities and stock market holdings to build a diversified portfolio of assets over a longer time horizon with an aim of overall stable earnings and the ability to withstand market cycles.

What stock market strategies do Canadians use?

Turns out most Canadians (41%) tend to invest in the stock market using a buy-and-hold strategy.(45)

Picture not described

However, Canadian investors also use other strategies when investing in equities and stock market products.

General facts about world stock markets

No matter what the market is doing, most people first want to understand the basics regarding stock exchanges and learn a bit about how share trading markets work.

What makes stock prices go up or down?

Stock prices go up and down based on supply and demand. When people want to buy a stock versus sell it, the price goes up. If people want to sell a stock versus buying it, the price goes down.

What is a normal trading unit in the stock market?

In the stock market, a round lot is considered a “normal trading unit,” which is in contrast to an odd lot. For stocks, a round lot equals 100 shares or a larger number that can be evenly divided by 100.

How many share types can investors purchase?

There are four stock types:

  1. Common stocks (aka: ordinary stocks)
  2. Non-voting shares
  3. Preferred stocks (aka: preference stocks)
  4. Redeemable shares

How much does a day trader earn?

In the US, the average salary of a day trader(46) is just under US$76,000 per year or US$37 per hour. In Canada, the average salary of a day trader(47) is just under $68,000 per year or $33 per hour.

History of the stock market

The stock market, and stock exchanges, are not recent concepts. The concept of the stock market dates back to the late 1400s in Antwerp (now known as Belgium) when merchants and businessmen would gather to buy and sell goods and trade bonds.

When was the stock market created?

However, the birth of the modern stock trading market(48) wouldn’t arrive until 1611 in Amsterdam, when the Dutch East India Company decided to raise capital by selling stock and paying dividends to its investors.

By the late 1700s, a small group of merchants gathered in New York daily to buy and sell stocks and bonds. This group developed the Buttonwood Tree Agreement to formalize trading practices — this would eventually help form the NYSE, which is now the largest stock exchange in the world.

When did the stock market start?

By 1790, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange was formed, and this helped grow and develop the various US financial sectors that would eventually fuel the growth of the country and lay the foundation for the global stock market.

Quite surprisingly, the birth of the world’s second-largest stock exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, otherwise known as the Nasdaq, would not happen until almost 200 years later, in 1971.

Survey Methodology for Finder: Consumer Sentiment Survey Q2 2023

The results of the Finder: Consumer Sentiment Survey Q2 2023 were collected through an online Pollfish survey conducted between April 27 to April 29, 2023. In the survey, 1,011 Canadians from across the country were asked about their use and opinions on various investment products and accounts. The estimated margin of error for the survey is +/- 3%, 19 out of 20 times.

About Finder

Finder is a personal finance comparison site with a mission to help Canadians save, invest, spend wisely and grow their wealth. Each month, Finder provides half a million Canadians – and more than five million globally – with independent and trustworthy financial information. Our goal is to help people make better financial decisions by providing objective, comparative insight on thousands of products and services.

As a global fintech website and app, Finder provides consumers free access to smart money content. Whether it's expert insight, product or service comparisons or independent reviews, Finder helps consumers stay on top of their finances while saving time and money.

Finder is available to consumers in Canada, Australia, America and the United Kingdom. Initially launched in 2006 by three Australians – Fred Schebesta, Frank Restuccia and Jeremy Cabral – Finder's global reach now includes thousands of products and services in hundreds of financial categories and provides expert content and independent reviews to more than five million users each month.

More guides on Finder

Go to site