How to Read the New York Stock Exchange

Reading and deciphering New York Stock Exchange tables is fairly simple, and has the added benefit of making you look cool and knowledgeable in certain situations. The New York Stock Exchange, owned by parent company NYSE, is the largest equity stock exchange in the world. Based in New York City and formerly run as a private organization until going public in '05, NYSE stock tables are sometimes called "The Big Board." Published daily online and in newspapers and broadcast on radio and television, stock tables consist of 11 headings detailing daily stock transactions.

Locate the company you are interested in by looking under the third column under the "Stock" heading. Companies are designated by an abbreviation or symbol issued by the NYSE and can be found on many financial and all company websites.

Starting at the far left under the heading "52 Week," there will be two columns labeled "High" and "Low." These two figures tell you the highest and lowest prices the stock has sold for during the past year. This numbers represent dollars and cents and are used to compare the current stock price to levels it has been in the recent past.

Look at the fourth column under the "Div" heading. "Div" is an abbreviation for "dividend" and tells you what each share of stock has earned for investors from the company's annual profits based on current transactions.

Proceed to the fifth column under the "Yld" heading for the percentage yield of the stock.The yield is the rate of return for the stockholder, and is determined by dividing the dividend by the current stock price.

Go to the sixth column labeled "P/E," which is the stock price verses earnings ratio. P/E is figured by dividing the stock price (share) by the company's per share earning over the past year. Company earnings are available by requesting a copy of their financial report from a stock broker, an annual report issued by the company or by performing an online search.

Read the figure in the seventh column under the heading "Sales" with a sub heading of "100s." This figure is the total stock shares traded for the previous business day. Simply add two zeros to the end of the number to determine how many shares have been traded.

Read the last four columns from left to right under the following headings: "High," "Low," "Last" and "Chg." The numbers under these columns are in dollars and cents and tell you the highest and lowest price paid for the previous day. "Last" is the last price paid for the previous day and "Chg" (change) is the difference in the dollar amount between the previous day's last trade and final stock price.


  • There are certain formulas, guidelines and tools investors use for investing on stock, and the NYSE table is only one of the tools used. Find out all you can about investing in stocks before you involve actual funds.
  • Before investing on stock, learn about companies that interest you by subscribing to business magazines and websites, visiting the company's website and requesting financial information such as a stock prospectus.


  • Choose stockbrokers with caution and solicit the advice of friends and others about their experiences. Stockbrokers are bound by a code of ethics as well as federal and and state securities law, but make money on each transaction even if you don't. Stockbroker advice may not always be the best advice, as they speculate like everyone else.
  • Beware broker, investor or individual advice regarding high returns or "sure things" in the stock market, especially if they "know" something. The stock market is one of the more risky investments for small investors, and there is no secret formula or guarantee of success. "Insider" information is illegal and can get you into serious legal and financial trouble.

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About the Author

Matt McKay began his writing career in 1999, writing training programs and articles for a national corporation. His work has appeared in various online publications and materials for private companies. McKay has experience in entrepreneurship, corporate training, human resources, technology and the music business.

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