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The stock market is the global network of economic transactions on which individuals can buy and sell shares in companies. A share of stock is actually a small piece of ownership of the company, and it typically comes with the right to vote on company directors. Companies sell shares of stock in order to raise money to expand. Individuals buy shares in the hope that the price will rise and they can sell the shares for more money in the future.
Stocks are traded on many different exchanges, including NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange, two of the largest stock exchanges in the world. Reporters often discuss the state of the stock market by talking about how a particular exchange is doing. When a given exchange closes for the day at a higher level than it started, this indicates that the stocks on that exchange have done well that day and the stock market as a whole has probably also done well.
When the stock market is rising, this indicates that the cost of shares is going up and companies are doing well. This is called a bull market. When the stock market falls, which indicates dropping share prices, this is called a bear market.
To learn more about the stock market, check out the links on this page from Business.com.