What Is the Big Board?

The "Big Board" is a nickname for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), located at 11 Wall Street, New York City, New York. The New York Stock Exchange, or Big Board, is the oldest stock exchange in the United States. 

Key Takeaways

  • The "Big Board" is a slang term used to refer to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the oldest and most well-known stock exchange in the U.S.
  • The term gained traction from the early days of NYSE trading where stock quotes and trading activity were updated manually on a large board for traders and brokers to view from the trading pits.
  • Today, most NYSE trading is conducted electronically, with price quotes and trade data available digitally and in real-time.

Understanding the Big Board

Big Board, also known as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is the first and most popular stock exchange in the world. The NYSE originated in 1792 when two dozen stockbrokers signed the Buttonwood Agreement. The NYSE acquired its current name in 1863, and the first company listed with the exchange was the Bank of New York. The Big Board is the world's largest stock exchange in terms of the market capitalization of its listed stocks, and two of the NYSE buildings are designated as National Historic Landmarks.

The Big Board is open for trading Monday through Friday, with regular trading session hours scheduled between 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). The NYSE is closed on weekends and for certain holidays, and also during catastrophic events, such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which closed the NYSE for four sessions until Monday, Sept. 17.

Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, derivatives, and exchange-traded funds all trade on the Big Board. The NYSE is an auction market, meaning buyers and sellers enter competitive offers at the same time, and matching bids and offers are paired together and executed. Unlike the NASDAQ, the NYSE has an actual trading floor.

To buy or sell a security listed on the NYSE, an investor places an order by calling a broker or going through an online trading account. Once the order reaches the floor of the NYSE, floor brokers and specialists execute the transaction.

Big Board Rules & Regulations

The Big Board operated as a nonprofit institution for hundreds of years until March 2006 when it became a for-profit corporation. The NYSE’s Board of Directors monitors its members and listed companies; however, the Big Board is still subject to a wide range of regulations from several federal agencies, including the Federal Reserve, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC oversees the NYSE and all national exchanges, investment institutions, brokerage companies, and other participants in the securities markets.

When the prices of any listed securities move up or down rapidly, the Big Board may restrict trading to reduce the large number of program trades that occur in an average trading session. Halting trading after a large move triggers a circuit breaker, which is put in place to curb panic selling. The curbs policies for the NYSE were first defined and instituted in 1987. They are now codified in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 80B. Currently, Rule 80B has three levels of curb that are set to halt trading when the S&P 500 Index drops 7%, 13%, or 20%. Curbs implemented on exchanges are executed separately from futures markets.