American Stock Exchange (AMEX): Past and Present

American Stock Exchange (AMEX): Past and Present

3 Min.

The American Stock Exchange (AMEX), now known as the NYSE American, was once a prominent U.S. stock exchange, handling about 10% of all securities traded in the country. Over time, it gained recognition for innovation, introducing options and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). However, it later became a hub for smaller companies. The NYSE American maintains liquidity through designated market makers.


The American Stock Exchange, once a formidable player in the U.S. stock market, stood as the third-largest exchange in the nation in terms of trading volume. At its zenith, it managed approximately 10% of all securities traded within the United States. Today, the AMEX has evolved and rebranded itself as the NYSE American. This transformation occurred in 2008 when NYSE Euronext acquired the AMEX. Over the ensuing years, it adopted alternative names, including NYSE Amex Equities and NYSE MKT.

Innovations and Milestones

Throughout its history, the AMEX earned recognition for its role in introducing and trading novel financial products and asset classes. One notable instance was the launch of its options market in 1975. Options, a derivative security, grant the holder the right to buy or sell an asset at a predetermined price on or before a specific date, without imposing an obligation to do so. Simultaneous with the introduction of its options market, AMEX disseminated educational materials to enlighten investors about the potential benefits and risks associated with options.

In 1993, the AMEX marked a milestone by introducing the first exchange-traded fund. ETFs, now a widespread investment choice, resemble mutual funds but stand out in that they trade on exchanges like regular stocks.

Over time, the AMEX built a reputation for listing companies that couldn't meet the stringent requirements of the NYSE. Presently, a substantial portion of trading on the NYSE American focuses on small-cap stocks, and it functions as a fully electronic exchange.

The Origins of AMEX

The roots of the AMEX extend back to the late 18th century when the American trading market was in its infancy. During this period, in the absence of a formalized exchange, stockbrokers convened in coffeehouses and on the streets of New York City to conduct securities transactions. Consequently, the AMEX was once referred to as the New York Curb Exchange.

The brokers who initially congregated on the streets of New York earned the moniker "curbstone brokers." They specialized in trading stocks of emerging companies, particularly in industries such as railroads, oil, and textiles, during the formative stages of these sectors. In the 19th century, this curbside trading remained informal and disorderly. In 1908, the New York Curb Market Agency emerged to impose rules and regulations on trading practices.

With the establishment of a formalized trading floor and a comprehensive set of rules and regulations, the New York Curb Market transformed in 1929, transitioning into the New York Curb Exchange. During the 1950s, an increasing number of emerging businesses chose to list their stocks on the New York Curb Exchange. The total value of companies listed on the exchange nearly doubled from $12 billion in 1950 to $23 billion in 1960. In 1953, the exchange adopted the name "American Stock Exchange."


The American Stock Exchange, now known as the NYSE American, has played a significant role in the history and evolution of the U.S. stock market. From its early days as a prominent exchange handling a substantial share of securities trading to its focus on innovation and smaller companies, the AMEX has left a lasting impact on the financial industry. Today, as the NYSE American, it continues to thrive as a hub for small-cap stocks and embraces the advancements of the digital age as a fully electronic exchange.

American Stock Exchange (AMEX)
New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)
United States of America (USA)