The basics of stock market symbols

Shares of companies traded on the stock exchange are identified by stock market symbols. Such stock market symbols are known also as a tickers. This is a mnemonic to identify shares of a publicly traded company.

Every trader on investor that wants to create order for his online trading broker has to know what is a stock market ticker for the company he wants to buy or sell. These market symbols could also describe equities that are not typical shares of any real company. These symbols could represent some index mutual funds, closed-end funds or etf – funds

US market ticker terminology

Here are some examples of stock market symbols for well known companies:

  • AAPL is the ticker for Apple Inc.traded on Nasdaq
  • MSFT is the symbol for Microsoft Corporation traded on Nasdaq
  • GE is the ticker for General Electric Company traded on NYSE (New York stock exchange)

All these symbols are for stocks listed and available on US stock exchanges. But there are plenty of different exchanges in the world. Every exchange has its own unique terms for definition of symbols.

Quite nice example are Japanese exchanges where every company is represented by market symbol that is specific number. Some examples:

  • 4528 is the symbol for Ono Pharma traded on Osaka stock exchange
  • 4530 is the symbol for Hisamitsu Pharmaceuticals traded on Tokyo Stock Exchange
  • 5632 is symbol for Mitsubishi Steel Mfg. Co. traded on Tokyo Stock Exchange

There is also another issue that must be take into consideration.A symbol is unique for one exchange. It means that MSFT is the ticker for the NASDAQ market. But Microsoft shares are also available on Deutsche Boerse in Frankfurt, Germany. To trade this company there you have to use the ticker MSF.

The NASDAQ and the the NYSE indicate their stocks with a series of letters. NASDAQ has symbols of four characters (MSFT, YHOO, EBAY…), and stocks primarily listed on the NYSE have tickers from one to three characters (A, PG, BAC, etc.)

This doesn’t mean that stocks listed on the NYSE are not available on the NASDAQ exchange. Today, all exchanges in the U.S. are interconnected, and you can trade NASDAQ listed stocks on the NYSE or Amex stock exchanges and also NYSE listed stocks on NASDAQ.

Best online trading sites for free ticker search

There are several different options how to find appropriate symbol for the company or fund you want to trade or to buy into your portfolio. The first option could be a trade software or a website provided by your broker. If you will not find the ticker there then it is probably not possible to trade such instrument with your broker.

If you use some independent real-time data providers then it is always good option to check their chart analysis software or their websites for free ticker search. I personally use my real time data provider to find stocks that are traded on international exchanges as these equity tickers are not easily available on US online market sites.
stock market symbols Esignal search window
The last but very easy option is to use some good US located online trading sites. There are plenty of site like Yahoo Finance web site or Google Finance Website. I personally use FinViz site.

stock market symbols FinVizsearch window
FinViz search input window is quite simple but it produces very good search results.

Find more on related pages