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What is a 'Ticker Symbol'

A ticker symbol is an arrangement of characters (usually letters) representing a particular security listed on an exchange or otherwise traded publicly. When a company issues securities to the public marketplace, it selects an available ticker symbol for its securities that investors use to place trade orders. Every listed security has a unique ticker symbol, facilitating the vast array of trade orders that flow through the financial markets every day.

BREAKING DOWN 'Ticker Symbol'

Stock symbols are the most recognized type of ticker symbol. Stocks listed and traded on U.S. exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) have ticker symbols with up to three letters. Nasdaq-listed stocks have four-letter ticker symbols.

Ticker symbols for options are structured to represent the underlying stock ticker they are based on and also their expiration date and contract type (either a put or a call option). Mutual fund ticker symbols are usually alphanumeric and end with the letter X to differentiate them from stock symbols.

The ticker symbol provides a unique identifier by which individual securities can be researched and traded. While the ticker symbol is most commonly an abbreviation of the associated company’s name, it is not a requirement; availability may prevent a company from selecting a symbol that easily translates to its name.

Ticker Symbols Followed by E or LF

When a ticker symbol is marked with the letter E on the Nasdaq Stock Market or an LF on the NYSE, this indicates the company associated with the stock has fallen behind on its reporting obligations to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The associated letters are added to the end of the company’s normal ticker symbol. Often, companies have a set grace period to then complete their reporting requirements. Once the requirement is met, the extra letters are removed. If the reporting requirement is not met before the end of the grace period, the security may be removed from trading.

The Stock Ticker

The stock ticker is a listing, or character printer, of the current prices for selected securities, displayed in real time with a very limited delay. Due to the sheer volume of securities in existence, the stock ticker most commonly focuses on those that are trading in large quantities on the particular day and those that have experienced the most notable changes in price.

The stock ticker provides current information regarding particular market activity. The associated ticker symbol for a security is displayed, along with information regarding recent trade volume and information on current pricing.

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