Ticker Symbols

The stock ticker, of course, is synonymous with finance. Investors watch the ticker in order to take the pulse of the stock market at a particular moment. The stock ticker reports basic information upon individual securities and benchmarks to help traders calculate the size of their positions and coordinate transactions. Streaming stock tickers have developed over time alongside technological advances.


Stock quotes were originally translated onto ticker tape via the telegraph from Wall Street to the brokerage houses of America, where information was often transcribed by hand throughout the day. Over time, of course, the ticker tape and telegraph were to be replaced with dynamic stock tickers, fiber optics and bandwidth. Traders may now observe stock ticker quotes in real time from various terminals, globally.

Ticker Symbol

Ticker symbols were originally designed to preserve space upon the ticker tape. The ticker symbol leads the stock quote information for individual securities on the stream. Individual corporations are associated with a distinct ticker symbol that also identifies the exchange that shares trade upon.

One and two-letter ticker symbols represent stocks that trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Two and three-letter stock tickers are associated with corporations that may trade on the NYSE or American Stock Exchange (AMEX). Four-letter ticker corporations, such as Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC) trade on the NASDAQ.

These groupings came to pass because the most basic symbols were awarded to the oldest companies, which would have traded on the NYSE – the first stock market in America.

Mutual fund tickers are identified with an “X.”

Last Trade Volume

The relatively large number following the ticker symbol is related to volume. This number indicates the amount of shares that were bought and sold at the most recent trade for that stock. The last trade share volume is between the lettered ticker and @ symbol.

Last Trade Share Price

The share price of the last trade follows the @ symbol. The quote is closed by a plus or minus symbol, which corresponds to a dollar amount. This information describes the amount in which the investment has increased or declined over the prior trading session.

Additional Information

Sophisticated investors can quickly associate familiar stock tickers with their underlying businesses. Novice traders may perform Internet searches or research Wall Street Journal stock tables to become familiar with important ticker symbols. The ticker symbol can be entered into various online business sites for quotes and additional stock valuation information, such as price to earnings ratios and market capitalization.

Stock ticker information and real time stock quotes are used for reporting purposes and do not justify the soundness of any investment. Corporations make financial reports available to help prospective investors make informed decisions.