Stock Quote

Updated on June 3, 2024
Article bySusmita Pathak
Edited byAaron Crowe
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Stock Quote Meaning

A stock quote refers to the real-time display of trading-related information, such as price, volatility, and volume of a stock or equity security on a stock exchange. Traders can use these quotes to determine whether to invest in or trade a particular stock.

Investors and traders need to know about the market performance of a stock before investing in it. The most common evaluation factors being its bid and ask prices, last trading price (high and low), trading activity, price changes on a given day, and trading volume. All this information is accessible through print media like financial newspapers and magazines and digital media like websites and mobile apps.

Stock Quote Sources

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Key Takeaways

  • A stock quote is the trading information related to a particular stock, including its price, volatility, and volume. It lets investors, traders, and money managers make informed buying and selling decisions.
  • It also displays supplemental information, such as bid and ask prices, last trading price, trading activity, and price changes (the high and low) on a given day.
  • Stock exchanges provide these quotes via print media, such as financial publications, digital media like mobile apps and websites, or mass media, such as television business news programs.
  • The semaphore system and ticker tape invention made it easier to display and track the decreasing or increasing stock prices.

Stock Quote Structure

The structure of a stock or equity security quote typically looks like the following:

  • The company name whose stocks are available for trading appears at the top, followed by the ticker symbol, which uniquely identifies the company. These ticker symbols or company nicknames can have a maximum of four letters.
  • The name of the stock exchange where equity trading occurs sits below that. For example, it would be NASDAQ for Apple, while for P&G, it would be the New York Stock Exchange.
  • The price at which a stock currently trades displays under the name of the stock exchange. Alongside is the information about whether the price is increasing or decreasing during that point. Also, it shows the percentage of profit that traders are likely to make.
  • After-hours trade details are also mentioned for investors before they peep into the overall summary. Other supplementary information includes bid prices and ask prices, price fluctuations, trading volume, opening and closing price, daily and 52-week high-low price ranges.

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How Do You Read A Stock Quote?

Financial markets provide investors and traders an opportunity to make a profit by investing in various instruments, such as stocks. Trading stocks mean gaining part ownership in a company and benefit from its business. Security prices keep fluctuating very often due to trading activities, market conditions, and company performance. Therefore, it becomes essential for investors to have relevant information about buying or selling a stock. Stock exchanges are marketplaces that list securities and display everything related to it in stock or equity quotes.

Stock Quotes Offer

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Anyone trading in the stock market can get an overall summary of the stock performance on a particular day through these quotes. These also contain comparative information based on the all-year-round stock price fluctuations, both the highest and the lowest. As a potential buyer or seller, this data helps investors understand the market trend and decide the right time to trade stocks.

Reading a stock or equity security quote would be difficult if investors are unaware of terms that define the data, such as:

#1 – Previous Close

It is the last trading price of a stock on a particular day.

#2 – Open

It is the price at which the trading of a stock opens on a given day. 

Any difference between previous close and open prices (incline or decline) is due to the price fluctuation after regular trading hours, i.e., from 9.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. ET. After-hours of trade are from 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. ET.

#3 – Bid

It is the price that buyers are willing to pay for stocks.

#4 – Ask

It is the amount that sellers set to sell their stocks.

#5 – Dividend Yield

It results from the division of dividend per share (profits shared by the company to its shareholders per year) by the stock price.

#6 – Day’s Range

It is a range of the lowest price and the highest price that a stock is trading at on a particular day.

#7 – 52-Week Range

It indicates the lowest price and the highest price at which the stock trading occurred throughout the year.

#8 – Volume

It depicts the number of stocks trading on a given day. If the volume is low, securities are expensive to buy and difficult to sell.

#9 – Average Volume

It is the number of stocks traded for the last three months.

#10 – Market Cap

The market capitalization displays the worth of a company.

#11 – Beta

Beta measures the volatility of a stock. The more volatile a stock is, the riskier it would be for investment. However, the standard value is 1.

#12 – PE Ratio (Trailing Twelve Months or TTM)

Also known as the price-to-earnings ratio, it results from dividing the stock price by the earnings per share. The average value should range between 13 and 15. If this ratio is high, it means the stock is costly and vice versa. Investors can use it to compare the prices of the equity security with that of other companies.

#13 – EPS/Earnings Per Share (Trailing Twelve Months or TTM)

It is the ratio of the total earnings of a company and its outstanding shares. When the output is more, investors know that the company is profitable.


Based on the above explanation of the quote terms, let us have a look at the following examples to understand how to read stock or equity security quotes:

Apple Stock Quote



Stock Quote for Tesla

Stock Quote for Tesla


Stock Quote Amazon

Stock Quote Amazon


History of Stock Quote

Tracking stock or equity security quotes would not have been possible if no communication hurdles existed in the Napoleonic battle of Toulouse in Southern France in 1814. The delay in delivering the news of the end of the war on April 6 and Napoleon’s abdication on April 12 led to more loss of lives in the war on April 10. This incident led to the exploration of the semaphore system of France.

With the help of this system, specific characters were transmitted to communicate the current situation in one location to other parts of France. It used a line of stations marked by towers to convey textual messages as visual signals or characters at the speed of 900 miles per hour.

The use of this arrangement was limited to the French government activities. However, the system evolved into one of the most effective techniques of tracking trading activity across stock exchanges. The tweaking included adding a control character containing a message, seeing which traders can determine whether to trade or not.

Another breakthrough in establishing the traditional form of communication medium for securities trading was ticker tape. It required a paper strip and a stock ticker machine to transmit stock trading information via telegraph lines between 1870 and 1970. The paper strip contained prices and volumes of stock and abbreviations of their company names.

The ticker tape dramatically transformed the stock market with the quick dissemination of trade-related information. As a result, tracking lowering or increasing prices of stocks of a particular company became convenient. Furthermore, it helped investors and money managers decide whether and when to trade.

Importance Of Stock Quote

Let us explore how the stock or equity security quotes have become a crucial aspect of the securities trading market:


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Source: Stock Quote (wallstreetmojo.com)

  • Assists investors, traders, and money managers in keeping track of daily price swings in the stock, allowing them to make informed trading decisions.
  • It helps in assessing the value of a company and predicting its stock performance.
  • It makes tracking a stock’s daily performance in the market easy.
  • Provides information about stock volatility, helping investors to minimize investment risk.
  • Reflects current stock price, enabling traders and investors to understand supply and demand.
  • It gives people access to comparative trading data, making them pro investors.
  • Allows traders to identify stocks and trading patterns to help them with future trading decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a stock quote?

A stock quote contains trading-related information for the stock of a particular company on a stock exchange. It provides real-time updates to traders and investors about stock price, trading volume, and trading activities.

How do stock quotes help traders?

Studying stock or equity security quotes allows traders to compare security prices from different companies, identify price fluctuations on a particular day, and make informed trading decisions based on the latest reflections on stock charts.

What makes stock quotes important?

Stock or equity security quotes help investors, traders, and money managers keep a tab on daily price fluctuations in the stock market. Also, it allows them to assess the demand and supply for a particular stock based on its current price. Besides predicting stock performance, they can detect its trading pattern to make future trades.

This has been a guide to stock quote and its definition. Here we discuss the structure, terms, examples, and how to read a stock quote along with its importance. You may also have a look at the following articles –

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