Reading Stock Quotes

If you are new to trading stocks then taking a look at a full stock quote can be a bit overwhelming. In this section, we aim to break down the major elements of the stock quote for your reading pleasure. Just below, you will see a screenshot of a Microsoft (MSFT) stock quote.

stock quote screenshot

Last Price

The last price is the price at which this stock was last traded. It may also be accompanied with last tradetime, which tell you the time of day when the last trade occured.

Previous Close

The previous close is what the last price of the stock was at the close of the previous market day.

Open Price

The open price is the price of the stock at the open of the market day.

Change / % Change

The change tells you by how much a given stock’s price has increased or decreased since the market open.


The tick is usually shown as an up arrow, down arrow or hypen, representing the last trade on the stock was an increase in price from the previous trade, a decrease in price or no change in price respectively.


There are a few variants you will come across for highs and lows on a stock quote. The most common being the 52 Week High and 52 Week Low, which show the highest and lowest price for a stock over the course of the past year. Some stock quotes also show this value over the course of the current market day (Day’s High, Day’s Low).


The Bid/Ask are where things get a bit interesting. The bid price is what someone who is looking to buy the stock is currently willing to pay. The ask price is what someone who currently owns the stock is willing to sell for.

A real world example being, you enter a mom and pop store and an item is priced for $5.00, you go the owner and say, I’ll give you $4.50. The owner of the store is asking $5.00 to sell the item (his asking price), and you are bidding to purchase it at $4.50 (your bid price). If the owner lowers his asking price the sale will execute, or if the bidder raises his bidding price the sale will execute. Of course, the stock market is made up of many more than two people bidding and asking, but hopefully you get the picture.

Stock Trading : Table of Contents

  1. Order Types
  2. Reading Stock Quotes
  3. Level-2-Quotes
  4. Market Makers

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