Anyone interested in investing is probably familiar with the story of the founding of the New York Stock Exchange -- now called NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX) -- under the giant buttonwood tree where 24 merchants and brokers agreed to trade amongst themselves. The first stock ever listed and traded was that of Bank of New York, which also has a new identity today as Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK).

Euronext is also no slouch when it comes to history. Formed in 2000, it brought together some of the most venerable exchanges in Europe, including the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, considered the oldest stock exchange in the world, with a 400-year history.

Together, NYSE Euronext is the world's largest exchange by volume and provides a diverse array of financial products. Its listed companies have a combined market cap exceeding $28 trillion and the average daily trading volume is approximately $102 billion. In comparison, the Nasdaq Stock Market (NASDAQ:NDAQ), the world's largest electronic exchange, lists approximately 3,200 companies and claims to trade more listed shares than any other U.S. market. The London Stock Exchange, with about 2,800 listed companies, sports a combined market cap of around $7.1 trillion at current exchange rates.

CAPS' take
More than 1,900 professional and novice investors at Motley Fool CAPS have opined that NYSE Euronext will overwhelmingly outperform the market. Some 97% have given the Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation the thumbs-up, with a like number of All-Stars -- top-rated players who consistently outperform their peers -- also thinking it will be a long-term winner.

Top-rated All-Star goodjoel views the combined exchange as having set the stage for competing in the global marketplace in the future.

NYX is in the midst of a significant transformational phase, highlighted by its acquisition of European derivatives and equity exchange Euronext, and the implementation of Regulation National Market System in the U.S. While there is risk from acquisition integration and regulatory changes, NYX is taking the right steps to position itself in an increasingly global competitive environment. In particular, the Euronext acquisition broadens NYX's geographic footprint, providing strong multi-asset exposure, and delivering product diversification.

My take
A storied history is fun to read about, but useless in making investing decisions. It's important to ask, what have you done for me lately, or more specifically, what will you do for me tomorrow?

NYSE Euronext is looking ahead with its plan to create an international market for carbon emissions, a potentially lucrative business, as multinational corporations seek to the reduce greenhouse gases they produce ahead of tougher regulation. Nymex (NYSE:NMX) will begin trading such issues early next year and CME Group (NYSE:CME), formerly the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is looking to establish a carbon trading platform.

Some analysts expect the market for carbon emissions to grow as large as $58 billion over the next five years and to $3 trillion in 20 years. NYSE Euronext's purchase of French energy exchange Powernext will ensure it's in the thick of it.

Your take
Although the CAPS community is pretty bullish in its thoughts on NYSE Euronext, your opinion counts just as much. Make your voice heard and let us know if you think it's a fair exchange for your portfolio.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.