The ASX (Australian Securities Exchange) acts as an important catalyst in Australia's development. It helps raise capital that flows into listed companies and fuels their growth. In the first half of 2013 alone, the ASX has raised capital of $46.39 billion, while 82 new companies listed on the exchange.
The ASX was formed after the Australian Stock Exchange and the Sydney Futures Exchange merged in July 2006. The Exchange was itself formed in April 1987 through legislation that merged six regional stock exchanges. The exchange is a listed company, ASX Limited, and 'ASX Group' is its umbrella brand. Today, it is reckoned within the top ten of the world's listed exchange groups.
The ASX ensures the availability of high quality, transparent and timely market information, cash and derivatives trading, listing and clearing services, depository and settlement management facilities and an infrastructure that supports monitoring and compliance with statutory rules and regulations. The ASX also acts as a watchdog overseeing corporate governance in listed companies. It prides itself as a 'multi-asset class, vertically-integrated exchange group.'
The ASX is known for its technological sophistication. Its trading technology encompasses two trading platforms. The 'ASX Trade' is meant for domestic trades, and in the words of the Exchange, "is one of the fastest and most functionally complete multi-asset trading platforms in the world, delivering latency down to ~250 microseconds."
On the other hand, the 'ASX Trade24' facilitates global trades round-the-clock, simultaneously maintaining two active trading days for seamless trading across multiple time zones. The platform boasts of network access points located at key financial centers across the globe, namely, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chicago, New York and London.
The ASX also employs robust clearing and settlement technologies. These are backed by sizable capital and collateral, and together with regulatory supervision, offer security of trades and funds to market participants.
The ASX allows for trading of shares, futures and options (F&O), infrastructure funds, warrants, managed funds, exchange traded products, interest rate securities, Australian Government bonds and products for the New Zealand markets. It also provides index-based trading products.
An excellent product from the ASX is the Exchange Traded Option (ETO). Options provide an edge to an investor or trader compared to just buying and holding shares. These versatile products enable one to control risk by protecting the value of the investment portfolio, earn an income stream from dormant investments, or lock in attractive prices to buy a share. ETOs allow the achievement of these objectives by employing a wide range of strategies.