What Do the Symbols & Abbreviations in the Stock Market Mean?

Symbols and abbreviations are a key part of stock market communication.

Stock quotes in the newspaper image by Chad McDermott from Fotolia.com

Symbols and abbreviations are shorthand forms of financial communication between market participants. Abbreviations are standardized short forms of financial concepts and terms. Symbols are usually three- to four-letter codes that identify publicly traded securities. Media reports, company earnings reports and stock tickers use these symbols and abbreviations to make the most use of available space while communicating important financial information.


Stock symbols are usually one- to four-letter codes identifying publicly traded companies, closed-end mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and other securities that trade on the stock markets. Some symbols have extensions to communicate additional information, such as a particular class of share or the exchange on which the security trades. For example, "ABC" would be the symbol for ABC Corporation, a hypothetical company, while "ABC.B" would be the symbol for its Class B shares.

Market Abbreviations

Common market abbreviations are alphanumeric codes to indicate stock exchanges, market indexes and order types. Common market and index abbreviations include "NYSE" for the New York Stock Exchange, "DJIA" for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and "S&P 500" for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. "GTC" and "AON" are common abbreviations for buy and sell orders. "GTC" is a good-till-canceled order that remains active until you cancel it, although the broker may limit the number of days you can keep such an order open. "AON" is an all-or-nothing order that executes in its entirety or not at all. In other orders, no partial fills are possible on "AON" orders.

Financial Abbreviations

Financial abbreviations are short forms of financial terms and concepts relevant to stocks and other market securities. "EPS," "PE" and "div yld" are common financial abbreviations. "EPS" is the trailing 12-month earnings attributable to common shareholders divided by the number of outstanding common shares. "PE" ratio is the stock price divided by the trailing 12-month EPS. These ratios are useful for determining stock valuations and the appropriate prices to buy and sell various stocks. "Div yld" is dividend yield, which is the trailing 12-month dividends divided by the current stock price and expressed as a percentage. The dividend yield plus the price appreciation is the total return on a dividend-paying stock.

Stock Ticker

Tickers are real-time or time-delayed displays of financial information about publicly traded companies. The ticker components include the stock symbol, 52-week low and high prices, high and low prices for the current trading session, last price at which the stock traded, change in price from the previous day's close, volume of shares traded, dividend yield and PE ratio. The ticker communicates sufficient information in compact form for you to make informed trading decisions.