Reading Stock Quotes

Reading stock quotes from the newspaper can be intimidating for those who are not familiar with the format. Here is how to interpret the charts and read the stock quotes.

In the Internet age, with stock quotes easily available on-line, reading stock in the newspaper is becoming less necessary. There are times, however, when you will find it preferable or necessary to read printed stock charts. The format may vary slightly from newspaper to newspaper, but all will generally be the same. The Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) stock charts are a good example of what you will find.

The stock charts are broken down by stock exchange - NYSE, Nasdaq, etc. Each exchange will be listed separately, with the stock exchange's listings categorized alphabetically. Several columns are associated with each stock. Reading from left to right, the columns are:

· 52 week high - The stock's highest closing price in the last 52 weeks.

· 52 week low - The stock's lowest closing price in the last 52 weeks.

· Stock - An abbreviated version of the company's name.

· Sym - This is the symbol under which the stock is traded. The WSJ lists both an abbreviated version of the company name and the stock symbol. Many newspapers list only one or the other.

· DIV - The annual dividend the company has historically paid.

· YLD % - The percent return, in dividends and/or other company pay outs, a stockholder can expect to receive from the company. Based on the previous day's closing price.

· PE - The Price to Earnings ratio (P/E).

· VOL 100s - Trading volume for the previous day, in hundreds of shares.

· HI - The highest per-share trade the previous day.

· LO - The lowest per-share trade the previous day.

· CLOSE - The previous day's closing price.

· NET CHANGE - The change in share value from the close of trading two days ago to yesterday's close.

Most newspapers will also publish the same information based on the week's trading. These stock charts often appear on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

Many times, there will be a small footnote near the stock's name. You can find interpretations somewhere near the bottom of one of the beginning pages of the stock charts. Common notations are ex-dividend dates, new high, and new low. Rather unique to the WSJ is a shamrock notation, which means you can order that stock's annual and quarterly reports from the WSJ Reports Service.

Without argument, Internet stock quotes are more up-to-the-minute. To some of us, however, nothing beats the relaxation of sitting on the sofa with the morning paper.

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