What is 'Ticker Tape'

A ticker tape is a device that shows stock symbols and numbers to convey information about trades. The ticker tape is electronic today, but it gets its name from the ticking sound the original mechanical machine made and from the long, narrow pieces of paper that stock quotes were printed on.

BREAKING DOWN 'Ticker Tape'

Each entry on the ticker tape displays the stock symbol (indicating which company’s stock has been traded), volume (number of shares traded), the price per share at which the trade was executed, an up or down triangle showing whether that price is above or below the previous trading day’s closing price and another number telling how much higher or lower that trade’s price was than the last closing price. Electronic ticker tapes also use green to indicate a higher trading price and red to indicate a lower price, and blue or white to indicate no change. Before 2001, trading prices were displayed in fractions, but since 2001, all prices are shown in decimals.

Watching the ticker tape, especially one that is color coded, can help investors gauge overall market sentiment at any moment. Ticker-tape data also helps technical analysts evaluate stock behavior using charts.

Before information could be transmitted electronically, brokers whose offices were closer to the stock exchange had an advantage because they received the latest trading data sooner than brokers located further away.

History of Ticker Tapes

The first telegraphic ticker tape was created by Edward Calahan in 1867, and Thomas Edison improved upon Calahan’s invention and patented it in 1871. Mechanical ticker tapes gave way to electronic ones in the 1960s. During the late 19th century, most brokers who traded at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) kept an office near it to ensure they were getting a steady supply of the tape and the most recent transaction figures of stocks. These latest quotes were delivered by messengers, or "pad shovers," who ran a circuit between the trading floor and brokers' offices. The shorter the distance between the trading floor and the brokerage, the more up-to-date the quotes were.

Ticker-tape machines introduced in 1930 and 1964 were twice as fast as their predecessors, but they still had about a 15-to-20 minute delay between the time of a transaction and the time it was recorded. It wasn't until 1996 that a real-time electronic ticker was launched. These up-to-the-minute transaction figures – namely price and volume – are seen today on TV news shows, financial wires and websites.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Tape Reading

    Tape reading is an old investing technique used by day traders ...
  2. Runoff

    Runoff used to refer to the procedure of printing the end-of-day ...
  3. Painting The Tape

    Painting the tape is a form of market manipulation whereby market ...
  4. Taping Rule

    The taping rule requires special monitoring of FINRA registered ...
  5. Quoted Price

    A quoted price is the most recent price at which an investment ...
  6. Time and Sales

    Time and sales is a real-time data feed of trade orders for a ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Understanding the ticker tape

    Here, we'll explain the meaning and use of that reel of symbols whizzing across your TV or computer screen.
  2. Investing

    Tape Reading Can Improve Your Investing

    Tape readers interpret complex background data during the market day to gain an edge.
  3. Trading

    Break Down Modern Market Trends To Grasp Movement

    Convergence points to dynamic conditions that can elicit strong trends while divergence suggests conflict, more typical of rangebound price action.
  4. Trading

    Rise and Shine With This Pre-Market Checklist

    Your pre-market routine sets the stage for the rest of the trading day. Use this comprehensive checklist to get up to speed ahead of the opening bell.
  5. Trading

    The Death Of The Trading Floor

    Electronic trading has almost completely replaced face-to-face human trading.
  6. Trading

    Electronic Trading Tutorial

    Learn about the systems that run the market.
  7. Investing

    A Quick Guide for Futures Quotes

    Here is a quick guide for reading and understanding futures markets quotes.
  8. Investing

    How to Choose a Forex Broker: Everything You Need to Know

    Take your time when looking for a forex broker because a bad decision can be costly.
  9. Trading

    Day's First Trade Can Serve as Support/Resistance

    The first trade of the day defines a narrow price level that can act as support or resistance.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Does the closing price have to equal the last price traded?

    Logically and theoretically, the last price traded should be the same as the closing price of a stock, but that's not always ... Read Answer >>
  2. What is the electronics sector?

    Learn more about the electronics sector, including the challenges and opportunities presented to electronics companies by ... Read Answer >>
  3. What does churning mean?

    A. Trading with yourself, or with someone else in attempt to make the tape appear more active than it really is.B. Trading ... Read Answer >>
  4. Why are Traders on the Floor of the Exchange?

    Learn how trading on the floor of the stock exchange has evolved over time with computers now managing the majority of buying, ... Read Answer >>
  5. Why Are Securities Held 'In Street Name'?

    Buying or selling securities through a broker means they're held in your broker's name. Read Answer >>
  6. What exactly is being done when shares are bought and sold?

    Most stocks are traded on physical or virtual exchanges. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), for example, is a physical exchange ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center