The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is the premiere national securities trading system for the nation of Australia, formed in July 2006 when the Australian Stock Exchange (ASE) and the Sydney Futures Exchange (SFE) merged. Like most large securities exchange systems, the ASX offers trading services for stocks, futures, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), real estate investment trusts, and so on. The ASX is ranked as the 11th largest exchange in the world, having a trading volume of $1,454 billion US Dollars (USD) annually and representing Australia as the 14th largest economy in the world as of 31 December 2010.
Attempts to increase the reach of the Australian Securities Exchange took place in October of 2010. Talks were under way to merge the Australian Securities Exchange with the Singapore Exchange (SGX). The merger, however, was blocked by the Australian Federal Government in April of 2011. The Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, blocked the move by stating that it was not in Australia's national interest, as it would have threatened the stability of the Australian financial system and had a detrimental effect on the Australian jobs sector. The SGX was seen as representing smaller, regional companies, and the merger would not have given Australia better access to the Asian capital market as hoped for.
Stock exchanges are not limited to one per country, and Australia is no exception, having several smaller exchanges as well. Three competing exchanges to the Australian Securities Exchange are the Bendigo Stock Exchange (BSX), the National Stock Exchange of Australia (NSX), and the NSX Wollongong Exchange. The NSX is linked to the sub-exchanges of Wollongong and the BSX, and acts as a market for small to medium businesses and prominent regional businesses in Australia. It is known to serve the role of specialized listings, as the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in Great Britain and the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) in the United States do.
Continuing to adapt to market conditions, the Australian Securities Exchange adopted a new structure to fit within the international financial market in August of 2010, and renamed itself the ASX Group. It continues to modernize, with an evolution that stretches back to 1861, ten years after the Gold Rush hit in Australia and its very first stock exchange was formed in the city of Melbourne. Among many other key milestones include when the Sydney Futures Exchange (SFE), now part of the Australian Securities Exchange, was granted permission in 1999 to set up trading terminals in the United States. This led to the eventual listing of SFE futures on the ASX in 2002, and the merger of both Australian exchanges in 2006.