What Is Across the Board?

Across the board is a term used by stock market watchers to describe a market in which most stocks and stock sectors or moving in the same direction, up or down.

Such widespread movements are usually caused by economic or geopolitical news that is relevant to most or all sectors of the market.

The idiom also can be used to refer to improving (or worsening) economic performance across all metrics for a particular company's stock, or a particular portion of a national economy.

Key Takeaways

  • The expression across the board indicates a clear direction up or down in the stock market as a whole.
  • The term may also refer to the collective economic performance across all categories of a single stock or a certain section of the broader economy.
  • The term originated with the NYSE's big board, which was where stock prices were posted and an upward or downward trend could be seen "across the board."

Understanding Across the Board

If the financial media reports that the stock market is up across the board, it means that most of the stocks in the market are up on that day's trading.

The term comes from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Big Board, on which stock prices were written. When the majority of prices were up or down, the movement could be seen "across the board." (The Big Board is still slang for the New York Stock Exchange.)

Examples of Across the Board

In addition to market-wide activity, the term is used often in the media to refer to strong stock performance for individual public companies.

For instance, there was a headline: "Improvement Seen Across The Board For Urban Outfitters In The First Quarter" from Forbes after the company beat expectations for both sales and earnings. Another headline was: "Burlington: Home a Hit Across the Board" from Home Textiles Today after "lower markdowns and slightly better markups delivered a strong quarter" for Burlington Stores.

Other Uses

The term is also used internationally, for instance, to show widespread improvements or tumult in certain sectors of the economy. For example, the headlines "Term deposit rates up across the board" in The Philippine Star or "Across-the-board selling pressure weighs on Qatar shares" in the Gulf Times.

The term also has leaked out of the financial sector and into other arenas. The Detroit News urged the Tigers to "tighten up the defense across the board" in a July 2021 headline. The same month, a technology reviewer declared Sony's latest model "basic across the board." And, President Joe Biden signed an executive order he said was aimed at increasing competition in Big Tech "across the board."