1. What are international markets?

At the heart of international investing lies the idea of diversification. International sharemarkets are those located in a foreign jurisdiction subject to another country’s regulations. They’re a great way for investors to increase the diversity of their portfolios, adding different elements that might not be as available, or as developed, in Australia’s sharemarket. They represent a sizeable opportunity compared to the domestic market.


In short

  • International sharemarket open up the biggest economies and companies
  • Buying international shares is a great way to boost diversification

The total value of the Australian sharemarket is about $2.5 trillion (as of Sept. 2021). That’s smaller than the size of America’s largest listed company, Apple. 

In comparison, the value of the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ come in at a combined US$50.7 trillion (as of Sept 2021). The Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai exchanges on the other hand are valued at between US$5-8 trillion (as of Sept 2021).

The size of some overseas companies can also dwarf ASX-listed stocks. The largest company on the Australian sharemarket is the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) at AU$163.8 billion (as of 2 Dec. 2021) while Apple has a market cap of US$2.69 trillion (as of 2 Dec. 2021). So, there are a lot more companies to choose from offshore, depending on your investment strategy and risk appetite.

Developed Markets


These are well established sharemarkets, linked to the world’s leading rules-based economies with a large number of high quality blue-chip companies available to buy and sell. They experience a large daily trade volume, are highly regulated, sophisticated and transparent.

US markets are the most highly traded and their exchanges host some of the world’s most well-known companies, like Facebook, Ford Motor Company, or Boeing. The major exchanges include the New York Securities Exchange and the tech-focused NASDAQ. Japan’s Tokyo Stock Exchange also hosts some recognisable names, like Asahi Group, Bridgestone and the Honda Motor Co.


Emerging Markets


Unlike the developed world, these markets are less established, and typically don’t feature as many recognisable companies. Their trading systems are less sophisticated and their regulations may not be as refined as their developed peers. They are typically connected to countries with weaker, less developed economies, such as Indonesia, Thailand or Turkey.


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