What Do Different Stock Market Symbols Mean?


Quick Answer

Stock market symbols are company abbreviations, a convention derived from the use of the ticker tape used at the close of the Civil War. Tradingcharts.com is one location users can consult to look up either a company name or its stock symbol.

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What Do Different Stock Market Symbols Mean?
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Full Answer

Some stock symbols have additional letters to designate a particular class (A or B), a new issue (D) or a mutual fund (X). A brief list of these designations is posted on the Money-Zine website. An LF designation for a company which trades on the NYSE means that the company is late in a filing with the SEC. For stocks traded over the counter, the designation for a late filing is E. These new clarifications are announced on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website. Companies are allowed to choose their own stock symbol, which must then be approved by the exchange.

Nasdaq allows five character symbols, but the NYSE limits the character length to three characters. The symbol does not need to be an abbreviation of the company name. For example, Sotheby's, the auction house, is represented by the symbol BID, according to Slate. Acquisitions and bankruptcies are events that can trigger a change in stock symbol. When Daimler-Benz acquired Chrysler, the symbol C was vacated according to CNN. Enter the symbol C today in a stock symbol database, and information for Citibank is retrieved.

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