Stock Exchanges Present Opportunity as Volumes Surge

Shares of American exchange operators have mostly performed well this year, especially compared with other financials.

Shares of American exchange operators have mostly performed well this year, especially compared with other financials. The engine for exchanges has been the U.S. stock market’s highly elevated trading levels, record options volumes and new public listings—all three of which are in no small part being driven by a surge in retail activity. This has helped Nasdaq and Intercontinental Exchange , owner of the NYSE, to sharply outperform. They are up 7% and 15%, respectively, versus a more than 20% decline for financials overall.

Meannwhile, retail trading is likely growing the fee pie that exchanges split. A recent analysis by Burton-Taylor International Consulting found that trading-tape data subscriptions grew by 62% from a year earlier in the first half of the year in the category that includes retail accounts. At the current pace, 2020 could see the biggest annual pot of tape fees in more than a decade.

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