Saturday, January 05, 2008

How To Read Stocks Without Being An Investment Genius

By Carlie Eviee

If you're just starting out learning how the stock market works, reading the stock tables in the paper can be confusing. Though it might be intimidating, it's important to learn how to read stocks. Don't worry, it won't take much time.

To begin, you'll notice that there are about twelve columns across the table, and each stock has its own line. The first two columns (usually labeled something like "52W High" and "52W Low") are dealing with the stock's performance over the past year. "52W High" shows the highest point the stock has reached in the past 52 weeks, and "52W Low" shows the lowest.

The column after that you will discover the name of the stock and then the ticker symbol for that stock. You will probably recognize some of these from the tickers that run across the bottom of the screen sometimes on the cable news networks.

Speaking of which, watching the financial shows on these networks will give you further help on how to read stocks and other aspects of the stock market.

There's another column next to the ticker column, and it's labeled "Div." This column shows you the annual dividend the stock pays out for each share. If you see a blank space in this column, that means the stock doesn't pay dividends right now. The same rule also applies to the very next column, "Yield %", the percentage return on the dividend.

The earnings ratio is indicated by P/E. You get this number by dividing the current stock price by the earnings per share for the last four quarters.

The next two columns are "High" and "Low." In the day's trading, you'll be able to see the highest and lowest points that the stock has reached. "Close" is the point at which the stock closed that day, and "Net Change" shows the change from the day before.

With a basic understanding of how to read stocks, you can now move on and start learning more about the market itself.

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