Stock Symbol Lookup

Stock symbols are the short one to five letter combination that designates a certain stock. For example, MSFT is the stock symbol for Microsoft, while YHOO is the stock symbol for Yahoo, and C is the stock symbol for CitiGroup. Stock symbols are also known as ticker symbols because of how they move across the ticker tape to show the current price for every stock. Some stock symbols have a word or a phrase that makes it easier to remember the stock they represent; Anheuser-Busch, for example, trades under the stock symbol BUD.

Stock symbols in the United States differ from the stock symbols of the world stock markets. Many other markets utilize a numbering system of stock symbols, where instead of a four letter combination, traders have a number to input on their trading orders. Which one is easier to use is up to debate; both systems have their pros and cons.

Stock symbols are the name of the game

Investing almost always requires that you know the stock symbol for the stock you wish to buy and sell. A stock symbol will allow you to retrieve current stock quotes and keep up with the stock market news that surrounds a particular company. If you don't know the stock symbol, there are databases of company names that can be searched for finding a stock symbol. Otherwise, your broker should help you find the symbol for your particular investment.

Standardized stock symbols make trading easier

Prior to the stock symbol, it was difficult to convey a difference between many corporations. One broker would use a stock symbol that another wouldn't, and each symbol would vary on the many different stock markets. Buying XYZ on the American Stock Exchange might not be the same as XYZ on the New York Stock Exchange. This made it difficult to buy and sell stock, as the confusion between the many different markets and many different brokers would often mean buying the wrong stock.

Getting used to the stock symbols comes over time. Trying to familiarize yourself with all of the stock symbols is impossible, but regularly using stock symbols will help you to remember which stock is which. Often companies will abbreviate their names, such as Target Corporation which sells under the stock symbol TGT. Others will use a critical part of their name to make a symbol, 3M Company uses the stock symbol MMM. Some symbols are easier to remember than others, and it only takes time to get familiarized with symbols.

Other letters in a stock symbol

Stock symbols may be followed by a period and then a letter. Each letter means something different as it relates to the ownership of the stock. A stock symbol with a .A at the end means the shares are Class A shares, .F indicates a foreign stock, others such as J and K are voting stock and nonvoting stock respectively. Just when you thought stock symbols are already hard to remember, the various endings add thousands of different combinations. Mutual funds also use symbols, but always end in the letter X, money market funds are followed by two Xs.  However, with time, you will become more comfortable with the different stock market symbols and endings in your investing efforts.