There is no shortage of internet sites that provide current stock quotes. Just about any large financial portal will let you to enter a ticker symbol to get the latest (15-minute delayed) quote. Traditionally, historical quotes on stocks and indexes were hard to come by for the general public, but this is no longer the case thanks to the advent of the internet.

Yahoo! Finance and Investopedia Research are good sites if you're looking for a historical range of data on an individual security. To get to the historical prices, enter the ticker symbol of the stock in question on the main page. This will take you to the "Quotes & Info" page of the company whose ticker symbol you entered then, simply click on "Historical Prices". This tool lets you enter a date range as well as daily, weekly or monthly closing prices. Another useful feature at the bottom of the same page is the "Download to Spreadsheet" link which allows you to review the numbers in Excel, for example.

Yahoo! Finance is also a good place to go for historical index data. Also on the "Quotes & Info" page are the major U.S. indexes, or you can look up world indexes, and simply click on the links for the index you're looking for and then again go to the "Historical Prices" page for past figures.

However not all indexes will have long-term data. If the index you're looking for does not have the date or range you're seeking, try Bigcharts.com. While it doesn't have the ability to enter a date range, it does allow for a date which it then brackets, providing a two-month range.

(For further reading, see Data Mining For Investors, Indexes: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and/or our tutorial on Index Investing.)

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