Secondary Market

Definition of ‘Secondary Market’


A market where investors purchase securities or assets from other investors, rather than from issuing companies themselves. The national exchanges – such as the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ are secondary markets.

Secondary markets exist for other securities as well, such as when funds, investment banks, or entities such as Fannie Mae purchase mortgages from issuing lenders. In any secondary market trade, the cash proceeds go to an investor rather than to the underlying company/entity directly.

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A newly issued IPO will be considered a primary market trade when the shares are first purchased by investors directly from the underwriting investment bank; after that any shares traded will be on the secondary market, between investors themselves. In the primary market prices are often set beforehand, whereas in the secondary market only basic forces like supply and demand determine the price of the security.

In the case of assets like mortgages, several secondary markets may exist, as bundles of mortgages are often re-packaged into securities like GNMA Pools and re-sold to investors.

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