The stock market is where you can invest in a number of the major companies in game. The value you hold stock is the number of shares you hold, times the share price. Ideally, you wish to buy shares of a stock when it is at a low price, then sell it at a higher price. Another common tactic is to use the stock market as a higher capacity bank, canceling out risk by spreading evenly between the stocks.
Max checkboxes are those little boxes next to the stock amount fields. These allow you to buy/sell the maximum amount of shares allowed for that stock type. Use these when you need to buy large amounts, or are in too much of a hurry to type in a bunch of numbers.
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