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Stock Market Quotes 101

Aug 17, 2007
The stock market quote is the basic collection of numbers an investor must understand to achieve success in the stock market. It is a list of prices for certain stocks at one point within the trading day. In the past, stocks were quoted in fractions, but now, most exchanges use decimals. Stock market quotes are found in newspapers, as well as online. Stock quotes are updated regularly during the trading day.

What are the numbers and columns in the stock quotes mean? Though most are easily understandable, some may be confusing for a stock market newbie. Here is a review of the common numbers in the stock quotes and what they mean.

Newspaper Stock Market Quotes. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) format is easiest to follow.
Listed below are the columns and a brief explanation for each column.

- YTD % CHG - The Year-To-Date Percentage Change. This represents the stock price percentage change for the year. This percentage is adjusted for stock splits and dividends over 10%.

- 52-Week HI & LO - The two numbers in the column record both the highest and the lowest price the stock is traded for within the last 52-weeks. Previous trading day not included.

- Stock (SYM) - This is where the stock name and symbols are listed. Stock names are usually abbreviated. The stock symbol is printed in boldface. Some newspapers don't print them at all.

- DIV - This stands for Dividend reflecting the annual distribution rate based on the last regular disbursement for a stock.

- Yield % - The yield percentages are the other disbursements paid to stockholders as a percentage of the stock's price.

- PE - The Price to Earnings Ratio is the per-share earnings over the closing price.

- VOL 100s - This means sales volume expressed with two missing zeros.

- CLOSE - The last price the stock traded for a certain day. But it doesn't mean that this will be the price the stock opens at the next trading day.

- NET CHANGE - This is the amount at which the stock closed today against yesterday.

- Footnotes - These notations point out any extraordinary circumstances within the listing such as new highs and lows, unusual dividends, first day of trading, etc.

Online Stock Market Quotes. Online stock resources cover the same information as the newspaper stock quotes. However, the difference is mainly with regards to getting the "live" information. Compared to reading yesterdays stock quotes on the paper the next morning, the information presented on online resources are updated constantly within the course of the trading day.

Indeed, stock market quotes offer a wealth of information when it comes to wise stock investment. as long as one understands what the numbers mean.
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