A:

Logically and theoretically, the last price traded should be the same as the closing price of a stock. However, the way we trade stocks and the markets we trade them on have undergone numerous innovations over the last decade. Thus, a late-afternoon online search for a closing price or last quote might reveal conflicting results.

The last trade you see at the moment of the close may not truly be the last trade. With many stocks trading heavily at the close, a few minutes are required to process orders and determine which among them was the last trade. Depending on the exchange or quote service, these trades may be posted anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes after the closing bell.

To make matters more perplexing, the closing price you see when you search for a quote online often is a "consolidated quote". This quote is delivered from a system that pulls transactions from all stock exchanges and puts them into one data stream. In addition to a consolidated closing quote, many exchanges, like the NYSE and Nasdaq, offer an official last trade or closing price for trades on their exchanges. Hence, you get what appears to be differing last or closing prices.

Additionally, with the advent of after-hours trading, you may see a "last price" that differs greatly from the "closing price" because the last price in this instance represents the last transaction that occurred in ongoing after-hours trading. In another few moments, the stock may trade again and have a new "last price". Of course, this information could seem puzzling when compared against the unchanging closing price from normal trading hours.

(For more, read Understanding the Ticker Tape, The Tale of Two Exchanges: NYSE and Nasdaq, and After-Hours Stock Price.)

This question was answered by Ken Clark.

RELATED FAQS
  1. How can my stock's price change after hours, and what effect does this have on investors? ...

    Most investors know that the major stock exchanges have standard trading hours - set periods of time each day when trading ... Read Answer >>
  2. I don't understand how a stock has a trading price of 5.97, but when I buy it I have ...

    It might seem logical that the last traded price of a security is the price at which it would currently be trading, but this ... Read Answer >>
  3. Where can I find information about pre- and after-hours trading on the NYSE and the ...

    The stock market, particularly the NYSE and Nasdaq, is traditionally open between 9:30am and 4pm EST. Over time, with the ... Read Answer >>
  4. How do I calculate the adjusted closing price for a stock?

    When trading is done for the day on a recognized exchange, all stocks are priced at close. The price that is quoted at the ... Read Answer >>
  5. Why are the bid and ask quotes usually so far away from each other in after-hours ...

    After-hours trading is defined as the exchange of securities outside of an exchange's specified regular trading hours (usually ... Read Answer >>
  6. What trends and data influence after-hours traders the most?

    Learn about the specific information that after-hours traders review to influence their trading. Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    Stock Quotes Explained

    Curious about how stock quotes are compiled and what a trader should know about how? Read on.
  2. Trading

    What Is The Difference Between After-Hours Trading And Late Trading?

    “After-hours” trading and “late trading” both refer to investments made outside of normal business hours. While the two activities sound similar and often take place in similar time frames, the ...
  3. Investing

    Understanding The Ticker Tape

    We explain the meaning and use of that reel of symbols whizzing across your TV or computer screen.
  4. Investing

    Can I Sell A Stock At The After-Hours Price?

    Most major exchanges trade from 9:30 am to 4 pm Eastern Standard Time, but you’re not limited to selling stock between those hours.
  5. Investing

    What's After-Hours Trading?

    After-hours trading occurs on major exchanges outside of regular trading hours, and takes place between 4:30 and 8 p.m. Eastern time.
  6. Insights

    The NYSE and Nasdaq: How They Work

    Learn some of the important differences in the way these exchanges operate and the securities that trade on them.
  7. Investing

    Understanding Stock Quotes

    All you need to know about understanding stock quotes.
  8. Trading

    The Anatomy Of Trading Breakouts

    We'll walk you through this trading strategy from start to finish.
  9. Insights

    Getting To Know The Stock Exchanges

    Here are the answers to all the questions you have about stock exchanges but are too afraid to ask!
  10. Insights

    What's an Exchange?

    An exchange is an organized marketplace where securities and other financial instruments are traded.
RELATED TERMS
  1. After-Hours Market Close

    The last transaction and final price of a security that is traded ...
  2. Nasdaq-100 After Hours Indicator

    An indicator of post-market sentiment and trading activity, calculated ...
  3. After-Hours Trading - AHT

    Trading after regular trading hours on the major exchanges. The ...
  4. Closing

    The end of a trading session. The closing of a trading day halts ...
  5. Close

    The end of a trading session in financial markets. "Close" refers ...
  6. Closing Price

    The final price at which a security is traded on a given trading ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Graduate Record Examination - GRE

    A standardized exam used to measure one's aptitude for abstract thinking in the areas of analytical writing, mathematics ...
  2. Graduate Management Admission Test - GMAT

    A standardized test intended to measure a test taker's aptitude in mathematics and the English language. The GMAT is most ...
  3. Magna Cum Laude

    An academic level of distinction used by educational institutions to signify an academic degree which was received "with ...
  4. Cover Letter

    A written document submitted with a job application explaining the applicant's credentials and interest in the open position. ...
  5. 403(b) Plan

    A retirement plan for certain employees of public schools, tax-exempt organizations and certain ministers. Generally, retirement ...
  6. Master Of Business Administration - MBA

    A graduate degree achieved at a university or college that provides theoretical and practical training to help graduates ...
Trading Center