How to Read the Ticker Tape for the Series 7 Exam

The ticker tape is a must know for the Series 7. It is also known as the consolidated tape. For subscribers, the tape delivers real-time (within 90 seconds) reports of securities transactions as they occur on different exchanges.

The consolidated tape is broken down into Network A and Network B. Network A reports transactions in New York Stock Exchange (NYSE Euronext) listed securities, and Network B reports transactions of NASDAQ OMX PHLX listed securities, as well as securities listed on regional exchanges. Take a look at an example of a quote shown on a typical ticker tape:

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  1. The ticker symbol: MSFT

    Each symbol represents a particular company.

  2. The number of shares traded: 2K

    In this case, 2,000 shares were traded. If fewer than 1,000 shares are traded, the full volume is shown. For example, 400 shares would appear as 400, without any letter next to it. The abbreviations for kilos (K), millions (M), and billions (B) equate to the following amounts: K = 1,000, M = 1,000,000, and B = 1,000,000,000.

  3. The price for the last trade: 29.76

    Here, the last trade took place at $29.76

  4. The change in direction from the previous day’s closing price

    In this case, the triangle is pointing up, so the price is higher. If the triangle points down, the price of the stock is lower than the previous day’s closing price.

  5. The difference in price from the previous day’s closing price: 0.16

    In this case, the stock is trading 16 cents higher than the previous day’s closing price.

NYSE listed securities used to be three letters or less and AMEX listed securities used to be four letters. Today, the waters have become somewhat muddied, for example, companies that move from one market to another are able to keep the same symbols, and markets have combined, and you can no longer tell where a security is listed strictly by the number of letters in its symbol.

Although you’re not likely to see extra letters tacked on to the standard stock symbols on the Series 7 exam, you should be aware of some of them. A ticker symbol may be followed by a period and then an extra letter to provide the following info:

Symbol Meaning
.X Mutual funds
.W Warrants
.R Rights
.P Preferred stock

You may run across a bunch of other symbols (like the ones listed in the sidebar “Alphabet soup: Other ticker symbols and meanings”), but these four are all you need for the Series 7. After you pass, you can look into the other ones.

For your personal knowledge, here is a list of additional symbols that may be placed after the symbol of a security. Although you aren’t likely to see these on the Series 7 exam, you’ll be dealing with them after you begin your journey as a registered rep:

A = Class A shares
B = Class B shares
C = Continuance (NASDAQ exception)
D = New issue
E = Delinquent with SEC filings
F = Foreign
G = First convertible bond
H = Second convertible bond
I = Third convertible bond
J = Voting share (special)
K = Nonvoting common stock
L = Miscellaneous
M = 4th-class preferred stock
N = 3rd-class preferred stock
O = 2nd-class preferred stock
Q = In bankruptcy
S = Shares of a beneficial interest
T = With warrants or rights
U = Units
V = Pending issue and distribution
Y = American Depositary Receipt
Z = Miscellaneous situation
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