When you enter a stock symbol in just about any online quote service, you get more than just a stock price or quote. The following table shows you the information you’ll typically get from these quote services.

Picking Apart the Data You Get from Quote Services
Data Point What It Means
Ticker symbol The abbreviation or code used to designate the stock.
Last sale The price at which the last shares of the stock traded hands.
Time The time of the day the quote information is based on.
Previous close The price the stock closed at in the last trading session.
Net change Tells you how much the stock price has changed from the previous close. The change is usually given as a dollar amount and percentage.
Bid The price a buyer is willing to pay for a share of the stock.
Ask The price a seller is willing to accept for a share of the stock.
Market Tells you where the stock trades. It might be the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, American Stock Exchange, or markets like the Pink Sheets.
Volume The number of shares that have traded hands during the day.
Average daily volume The number of shares that trade hands among investors, on average, over a period of time (such as a quarter).
Today’s high The highest level the stock traded at during the day.
Today’s low The lowest level the stock traded at during the day.
52-week high The highest the stock’s price has been over the past year.
52-week low The lowest the stock’s price has been over the past year.
Shares outstanding The number of shares available for shareholders to buy and sell.
Market capitalization The total value of the company based on the current stock price.
P/E ratio The price-to-earnings ratio. A way to determine whether a stock is cheap or expensive.

When you’re looking at online stock quotes, pay close attention to the time of the quote. Some free online stock websites provide delayed quotes, which are usually 15 minutes old. If you need a real-time current quote, most online brokers provide them for free from their sites. You can also get free real-time quotes from Yahoo! Finance. FreeRealTime also provides real-time quotes, you guessed it, for free.