The Nasdaq and the NYSE are stock exchanges that trade securities. Nasdaq stands for National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation and NYSE stands for New York Stock Exchange. (For more information about this topic, read our related article The Tale of Two Exchanges: NYSE and Nasdaq.)
Like any public company, these stock exchanges issue shares for investors to buy. The NYSE is owned by NYSE EuroNext Inc. and issues shares under the ticker symbol (NYSE: NYX). The Nasdaq is owned by Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.and its shares trade under the ticker symbol (Nasdaq: NDAQ).
As with the decision to invest in any company, research into the future profitability of the business must be undertaken. An investor would want to examine fundamental and technical characteristics before calling a broker and placing an order. (To learn how to explore stock values, see The Guide to Stock Picking Strategies or Blending Technical and Fundamental Analysis.)