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. Digits Deleted

    Digits deleted is a designation on an exchange's ticker tape ...
  3. Painting The Tape

    Painting the tape is a form of market manipulation whereby market ...
  4. Fast Tape

    A type of futures market that occurs when a single traded price ...
  5. Ticker Symbol

    An arrangement of characters (usually letters) representing a ...
  6. Flash Price

    The flash price is an up-to-the-minute quote for a heavily traded ...
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

    Translating Ticker Talk

    Stock tickers can say a lot about a company in just a few letters. Find out how to read them.
  3. Insights

    The Evolution Of Ticker Symbols

    The stock market has changed dramatically since its inception, but the use of ticker symbols has remained largely unchanged.
  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

    Principal trading and agency trading

    Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes when you buy or sell a stock? Read on to find out.
  6. Trading

    Minute-to-Minute Trade Signals for Today's Scalper

    Scalpers can profit in today's modern environment by using technical indicators—outlined here—that are custom-tuned to very small time frames.
  7. Investing

    A Quick Guide for Futures Quotes

    Here is a quick guide for reading and understanding futures markets quotes.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Why Do Mutual Fund Tickers Have an 'X' at the End?

    Mutual fund tickers end with an 'X' to distinguish them from other types of securities. Read Answer >>
  2. 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 >>
  3. What is the electronics sector?

    Learn more about the electronics sector and the challenges and opportunities presented to electronics companies by new and ... Read Answer >>
  4. How Long Does the D Stay in Split Stock's Symbol?

    The letter D is used to designate a company undergoing a stock split or reverse stock split. 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. Are there significant seasonal patterns in the electronics sector?

    Examine the consumer electronics sector and learn what typical seasonal sales patterns can be identified for this important ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Business Cycle

    The business cycle describes the rise and fall in production output of goods and services in an economy. Business cycles ...
  2. Futures Contract

    An agreement to buy or sell the underlying commodity or asset at a specific price at a future date.
  3. Yield Curve

    A yield curve is a line that plots the interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality, but ...
  4. Portfolio

    A portfolio is a grouping of financial assets such as stocks, bonds and cash equivalents, also their mutual, exchange-traded ...
  5. Gross Profit

    Gross profit is the profit a company makes after deducting the costs of making and selling its products, or the costs of ...
  6. Diversification

    Diversification is the strategy of investing in a variety of securities in order to lower the risk involved with putting ...
Trading Center