What Do the Letters on a Stock Chart Stand for?

by David Sarokin

A stock chart, as you might find online or in the pages of a newspaper, is a bewildering alphabet soup of letters representing company names, stock performance and financial abbreviations. It's useful to know what the major abbreviations stand for and to become familiar with a few resources for interpreting unfamiliar financial codes.

Tables

Stock charts can take the form of detailed tables printed in the financial pages of many newspapers. The charts typically show the performance for the day of hundreds of individual stocks, along with information about longer-term performance. A newspaper stock chart may also include assorted financial statistics about individual companies.

Graphs

Stock charts presented as graphs typically chart the performance over time of an individual stock, a group of stocks or a stock index such as the Standard and Poors 500. Graphical charts can show performance for a single day, known as an intraday chart, or can display a longer timeline of stock performance, spanning weeks, months or years.

Stock Symbols

A major entry on stock charts is a group of letters representing an individual company or a stock index. For example, GOOG is the stock symbol for Google, a company, and DJIA is the symbol for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a stock index. Many investing websites, such as Yahoo! Finance, provide online lookup searches to match a company name with its stock symbol.

Common Abbreviations

Stock charts employ hundreds of letter combinations to identify companies and indexes as well as financial terms. For example, Vol represents the volume of shares trades, P/E is used for price-earnings ratio and 52Wk means the high or low value of the stock in the past 52 weeks. Other common abbreviations are Div for dividend, EPS for earnings per share, NYSE for New York Stock Exchange, AmEx for American Stock Exchange and OTC for over-the-counter trades.

Glossaries

There are numerous online glossaries that are useful for finding the meaning of unknown abbreviations on stock charts. InvestorWords and Forbes Financial Glossary are two well-known resources.

About the Author

David Sarokin is a well-known specialist on Internet research. A former researcher with Google Answers, he has been profiled in the "New York Times," the "Washington Post" and in numerous online publications. Based in Washington D.C., he splits his time between several research services, writing content and his work as an environmental specialist with the federal government.

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