Biggest European stocks and exchanges you should know
Want to invest in European stocks? These are the biggest stock exchanges and companies you need to know about.
If you want to diversify your investment portfolio, trading international stocks allows you to gain exposure to some of the largest companies in the world. And while some investors look to the US for international exposure, there are also many opportunities on offer in Europe.
From the heart of the EU to the UK and points further afield, Europe's biggest exchanges offer access to a host of globally recognised companies. But which exchanges dominate the European market? And what are the major stocks you can trade on European exchanges? Keep reading to find out.
The 5 largest European stock exchanges by market capitalisation
We checked in with Statista to find the largest stock exchanges in Europe by domestic market capitalisation, as of January 2021. So if you're looking to gain exposure to European markets, these are the five major exchanges you need to know about.
Market capitalisation: US$4.88 trillion.
The largest exchange in Europe by market capitalisation may come as a surprise to some. Rather than operating in a single city or country, Euronext is a pan-European exchange that operates exchanges in 7 different cities – Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, Milan, Oslo and Paris. As a result, it provides access to over 1,800 listed companies. Including ASML (Euronext Amsterdam) plus Air France, Danone, L'Oréal and LVMH (Euronext Paris, formerly the Paris Bourse).
2. London Stock Exchange
Market capitalisation: US$3.67 trillion.
Founded in 1801, the London Stock Exchange is one of the world's largest and best-known exchanges. Its Main Market is where you can buy and sell shares in more than 1,000 companies from 100 countries - including big British names like Unilever, HSBC Holdings, BP and alcoholic beverages company Diageo. Meanwhile, the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) provides small and medium growth companies with access to equity finance.
The FTSE 100 index, better known as the "footsie", tracks the performance of the 100 largest companies (in terms of market capitalisation) listed on the London Stock Exchange.
3. Deutsche Börse AG
Market capitalisation: US$2.06 trillion.
Deutsche Börse AG operates the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the largest of Germany's 7 exchanges, and its electronic trading system Xetra. It's home to a range of international brands, including BMW, Adidas, Bayer, SAP and Allianz. You can trade more than 1,000 German and international shares on Xetra, as well as over 1,800 ETFs and ETPs. There's also the DAX index, which consists of 30 major German blue chips listed on the exchange.
4. NASDAQ Nordic and Baltic Exchanges
Market capitalisation: US$1.91 trillion.
While most traders will associate NASDAQ with US markets, the American multinational also operates securities markets in Europe's Nordic and Baltic regions. It provides access to equity, derivatives and fixed income markets via exchanges in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia and more. Its Main Markets in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Iceland provide investors with access to more than 650 companies.
5. SIX Swiss Exchange
Market capitalisation: US$1.76 trillion.
The Swiss Stock Exchange was created in 1995 following the merger of the Geneva, Basel and Zurich stock exchanges. Based in Zurich, it provides access to more than 250 Swiss stocks, including major names like Novartis, Roche and Nestlé.
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The 5 largest European stocks by market capitalisation
Some of the largest companies in the world, including brands such as Apple and Microsoft, can be traded on European exchanges. But if you wanted to invest in Europe's largest companies, who are the major players?
1. LVMH (MC:EN Paris)
Never heard of LVMH? Maybe the company's full name, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, will ring a few bells. This French multinational specialises in a wide range of luxury goods, including wine and spirits, fashion, perfume and cosmetics, and jewellery.
Formed in 1987 when fashion house Louis Vuitton merged with famous champagne brand Moët & Chandon, LVMH's suite of brands includes names as diverse as Dom Pérignon, Christian Dior and TAG Heuer. LVMH shares are traded on Euronext Paris (formerly known as the Paris Bourse).
2. Nestlé (SWX:NESN)
Swiss food and beverages company Nestlé needs no introduction. The global behemoth, which employs more than 270,000 people worldwide, is the company behind household product names across a wide range of market sectors. These include everything from bottled water (Perrier) and chocolate (KitKat) to coffee (Nescafe and Nespresso) and dog food (Purina).
Nestlé also happens to own more than 23% of L'Oréal, another of Europe's top 5 companies by market cap. Nestlé shares can be traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange.
3. Roche (SWX:ROG)
Next on the list is another Swiss company, Roche Holding AG. Founded in Basel in 1896, this healthcare company specialises in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics and is the world's largest biotech firm.
The company has focused on cancer research and treatment for over 50 years, and it employs more than 90,000 people in over 100 countries. Shares in the company are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.
4. ASML (ENXTAM:ASML)
ASML Holding NV is a semiconductor technology company based in the Netherlands. Founded in 1984, it develops and manufactures lithography systems for silicon chipmakers. Headquartered in Veldhoven, ASML reported net sales of more than €14 billion (approximately AUD$23.6 billion) in its 2020 annual report.
ASML shares are listed on Euronext Amsterdam.
5. L'Oréal (OR:PA)
If you've ever shopped for cosmetics or haircare products at your local supermarket, you'll no doubt have come across a host of products bearing the L'Oréal brand name. The famous French company, headquartered in Clichy, is the world's largest cosmetics company and reported almost €28 billion (approximately AUD$44 billion) in sales in 2020.
Its range includes makeup, perfume, hair care, skin care and sun protection products, and L'Oréal shares are listed on Euronext Paris.
How to invest in European stocks
If you want to gain exposure to European companies, you'll need to find a reputable broker that provides access to European exchanges.
For example, you can invest in European stocks and pay zero commissions with eToro. The social trading platform not only provides access to Euronext, but also allows you to trade shares on the SIX Swiss Exchange, the London and Frankfurt exchanges, and many more. You get to buy and sell shares directly on most markets, but eToro offers CFD trading on the Milan, Helsinki, Oslo and NASDAQ Copenhagen markets.
Ultimately, if you'd like to trade shares in Europe's largest companies, the most important thing is to do your homework. Compare share trading platforms to find one with wide market access and competitive fees, and research any stock thoroughly before buying.
Once you've done your due diligence, you can think about adding some European flavour to your portfolio.
Buy shares with eToro
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.