What is a 'Stock Quote'

A stock quote is the price of a stock as quoted on an exchange. A basic quote for a specific stock provides information, such as its bid and ask price, last-traded price and volume traded. Investors increasingly access stock quotes online or on mobile devices, such as smartphones, rather than through print media such as newspapers and magazines. A large number of Internet portals and websites offer delayed stock quotes at no charge, with real-time stock quotes generally restricted to paying subscribers.

BREAKING DOWN 'Stock Quote'

All stocks in the U.S. have been quoted in decimals, rather than fractions, since April 9, 2001. As a result, bid-ask spreads have contracted dramatically, with spreads for the most widely traded stocks now as small as a penny, compared with 1/16th of a dollar (or $0.0625) earlier. Decimal pricing has resulted in substantial savings on transaction costs to U.S. investors because of tighter bid-ask spreads.

What Stock Quotes Reveal to Investors

Stock quotes can be presented with supplemental information and data such as the high and low prices for a given security that have been recorded over the course of the trading day. The stock quote may also show the change in value of the security compared against the prior day’s closing price or the opening price of the current trading day. The difference in prices might be shown as a percentage, revealing how much the security has increased or declined in value.

Analyst recommendations for a given security might also be presented with a stock quote. Such recommendations could be shown for hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly intervals.

Depending on the service and platform providing stock quotes, the information might strictly revolve around the current, latest pricing, or there can be expanded details such as metrics on the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual performance of the security. A stock quote can also include performance metrics on share prices for a multiyear period.

The pricing displayed with a stock quote reflects the buying and selling activity that influences the value of a given security. As each trading day unfolds, news and industry trends related to a security can affect the way investors choose to handle the shares. When beneficial updates are revealed, such as strong revenue and earnings reported by the company or positive test results for a product, the value of the shares can increase as more investors buy into the company. These shifts are reflected in the stock quotes that shareholders and other watchers of the company will use to make investment decisions.

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