Stocks are an investment in ownership of public companies. With ownership of individual stocks, investors may have voting rights, receive dividends and participate in the growth and future prospects of the company.
Positive characteristics of stock investment includes: higher return than bonds investments, very high liquidity (the ability ot sell the biggest stocks at any instant), efficient pricing (the dollar volume that flows through the biggest stocks ensures an accurate price at that moment) and it is a passive investment (no further work is required after the investment has been made).
Negative characteristics of stock investments include: higher volatility than a bonds investment, systematic risk (risk if the overall market goes down) and non-systematic risk (risks to your specific company or industry), investor has no control over the outcome of the company, and stock investors are last in line for company assets in the case of a bankruptcy.
Examples of US stocks include: