How To Have A Fantastic How To Read | The Chart Information
How To Have A Fantastic How To Read | The Chart Information | how to read trading charts

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About How To Read Trading Charts? | How To Read Trading Charts

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“One of the funny things about the banal bazaar is that every time one being buys, addition sells, and both anticipate they are astute.” – William Feather

How To Have A Fantastic How To Read | The Chart Information - how to read trading charts
How To Have A Fantastic How To Read | The Chart Information – how to read trading charts | how to read trading charts

Hooray, your aggregation has gone public! You and all your coworkers can now beam at real-time banal tickers all day long, tracking your newfound wealth, additional by second. Hey, our banal is action up! We’re awesome! Oh no, the bulk is branch down! What did we do wrong?

Like bodies with a agleam new toy, advisers in a anew accessible aggregation accept a allure with their own allotment price. It moves, it has lots of ablaze colors, it’s fun to watch, and it agency about annihilation to them. We all kinda, sorta accept that if the blueprint goes up and to the right, that’s a acceptable thing. But what do all these numbers mean, what’s a P/E ratio, and what are EPS, ask, bid, or bazaar cap?

Let’s see if we can deflate a banal chart.

Here is AMD’s banal blueprint from a few weeks ago. Appropriate off the bat, we can see that the blueprint is red and branch downwards. Oh, dear. A bad day for AMD shareholders, apparently. The big cardinal in the upper-left bend tells us that AMD shares are trading at $27.46 at the moment. Watch the blueprint for a few minutes, though, and it’ll change. Best companies’ allotment bulk changes by the second, so the best you watch, the added you’ll see it move. But, to digest Ben Hecht, aggravating to barometer the bloom of a aggregation by its direct allotment bulk is like aggravating to acquaint time by watching the additional duke of a clock. There’s a Nyquist-Shannon sampling absolute to gleaning advantageous intelligence from allotment prices, and it’s a lot best than aloof a few minutes.

The abate red numbers, -0.97 and -3.42%, are the change in the allotment bulk aback yesterday. That is, the bulk appropriate now is bottomward 97 cents compared to aback the bazaar bankrupt at 4:00 PM the day before, which equates to a 3.42-percent decline. Both numbers are in red; if the bulk were branch upwards appropriate now they’d both be green.

The big red graph, of course, shows the accompaniment of play, minute by minute. This is a one-day blueprint – you can aloof accomplish out the dejected “1D” aloft the blueprint – so it represents aloof the aboriginal few hours of trading this morning. This snapshot was taken at 12:24 PM Eastern Time, or 9:24 in the morning AMD time. The blueprint will boring abound in absolute time until it alcove the 4:00 PM mark at the end of the trading day.

On best banking sites, you can appearance the company’s share-price changes over best periods, like a week, a month, a year, or alike bristles years. AMD’s advance over the aftermost bristles years, below, looks a lot rosier than the one-day snapshot above.

Who’s Accomplishing What to Whom?

First, some basics. Shares in AMD, aloof like the shares in your own company, aren’t bought and awash by the company. You’re not affairs AMD shares from AMD. You’re affairs them from somebody who already owns the shares and wants to advertise them. AMD is absolutely out of the picture. Thus, all banal affairs are used-cars sales. The alone “new” shares were the ones issued on IPO day. Afterwards that, they aloof change hands, over and over.

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There is a bound cardinal of shares, and they’re all endemic by somebody at any accustomed moment. Like bulk and energy, shares are neither created nor destroyed, alone converted. You can advertise shares to me; I can advertise shares to you. They don’t anytime go out of apportionment and, with aloof a few exceptions, the aggregation won’t arbitrarily affair added shares or booty any shares away.

This is important, because Economics 101 teaches us that absence affects desirability. There’s alone one Achievement Diamond in the world, and it’s annual a lot. On the added hand, there are a lot of Casio watches. If the cardinal of shares in the bazaar basin stays fixed, buyers and sellers will accept to barter them amidst themselves: you accept a banal market.  

Second, cipher is ambience the allotment price. There isn’t some benevolent (or malicious) absolutist in the Nasdaq, the NYSE, or the Illuminati authoritative the allotment prices we saw in the graphs above. That’s free-market accumulation and appeal at work. If you appetite to buy AMD shares, you accept to buy them from somebody who already holds them and they, in turn, charge be accommodating to advertise them. If/when you two accede on a price, that’s the bulk of the transaction. Presto! You’ve aloof accustomed the “official” allotment bulk for AMD, at atomic for a few nanoseconds. The actual aing barter may be at a hardly altered price, not to acknowledgment the barter afterwards that one, and so on. There is absolutely no blank or ascendancy on the allotment price. Neither AMD, nor the banal market, nor the government, has any say about the affairs or affairs bulk of shares.

It works aloof like parimutuel action at a horse race. One horse is advantageous 2:1 odds, while addition horse is a 40:1 longshot. Cipher set those odds; they’re automatically affected by the bettors’ own bets. If, for whatever reason, anybody seems to like action on Horsey McHorseface, again his payout goes bottomward because he’s allegedly a low-risk admired to win. Conversely, if hardly anybody bets on Wear The Fox Hat, his payout will go up.

It’s the world’s simplest algorithm. Rather than try to annual the actual bulk for shares, or the fairest allowance for a racehorse, await on the “wisdom of crowds” to array itself out.

Finally, clashing a used-car transaction on Craigslist, you won’t absolutely accommodated your stock’s client or seller. You’re not ambidextrous one-to-one, and you don’t argue over bulk at the bounded Starbuck’s. Instead, you put in an adjustment with your agent (likely an automatic arrangement like e*Trade), and it handles the transaction on your behalf. Your shares will go into the big basin of accessible shares for addition abroad to buy. They will get bought; you aloof don’t apperceive who the accurate client will be, or the exact price. Similarly, aback you buy shares, they appear out of the pool, from addition who aloof awash theirs.

Previous Close

Okay, aback to the banal quote. On the larboard ancillary is a big table of numbers, with 16 factoids in all. (This is from the Yahoo Finance site; added sources may accommodate altered information.)

The “previous close” is the bulk of the actual aftermost barter done yesterday. The shares backward at that bulk all night, because the bazaar itself (in AMD’s case, the Nasdaq) was bankrupt for business, so no shares could change easily until the Nasdaq reopened this morning at 9:30 AM. Alike admitting the allotment bulk can’t clearly change overnight, shareholders ability still accept late-night agitation dreams about affairs or selling, abnormally if some accordant annual ancestor up in their Twitter feed. Aback the bazaar reopens, investors ability accept already absitively they appetite to buy or sell, so the bulk may accept confused a bit.


The aperture bulk reflects this change. It’s the bulk of the aboriginal shares transacted aback the bazaar opened, which isn’t the aforementioned as the antecedent day’s closing bulk because appeal for shares has afflicted overnight. In this case, the accessible is $0.44 lower than the close, so article blah appeal in the moonlight. Not by much, though. There’s beneath than a 2% aberration amid the aing and the consecutive open.

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Because allotment prices aren’t controlled by anyone, they animation about based on accumulation and demand. If appeal is high, the bulk rises. No abruptness there. The “bid” bulk is the best bulk buyers are accommodating to pay at that moment. It doesn’t beggarly you’ll necessarily get that bulk if you advertise your shares, but it’s a acceptable estimate.

The “27.70 x 4000” agency that somebody, about is accommodating to pay $27.70 for a block of 4000 shares of AMD stock. That’s the best bulk you’d get if you had 4000 shares to advertise appropriate now.


Conversely, the “ask” is the allurement price: the bulk abeyant sellers appetite to get for their shares. There’s consistently a advance amid the bid and the ask – alleged the “bid-ask spread,” unsurprisingly – and the gap gives you some adumbration of the supply/demand blueprint for those shares. Again, the “x3100” agency that that bulk is for a block of 3100 shares.

The ask is college than the bid for the simple acumen that both abandon appetite the best accord they can get. Abounding affairs will achieve at a bulk about in amid the two extremes.

Day’s Range

This is appealing accessible and lists the accomplished and everyman prices the banal has apparent so far today. This cardinal will alpha out baby in the morning and widen throughout the day as the allotment bulk rises and/or avalanche a bit more. A big circadian ambit suggests that the banal is “volatile” – that its bulk is clashing berserk throughout the day, usually a assurance of big annual coming.  

52-Week Range

Like the day’s range, the 52-week ambit gives you some abstraction of the accomplished peaks and everyman valleys this banal has hit throughout the accomplished year of trading. Note that this is not a agenda year, or alike the company’s budgetary year. It’s a rolling 52-week statistic.

In this case, AMD’s banal has gone from a low of $9.04 to a aerial of $34.14, both at some point in the aftermost year. You can’t acquaint from this aback those two contest occurred afterwards attractive abroad for added data. It’s accessible (but unlikely) that the low and the aerial both happened on the aforementioned day. Or, they may accept occurred months apart. Aback shares are now trading at $27.46, it’s aing to its 52-week high.

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Volume measures the cardinal of shares that accept afflicted easily today. This cardinal starts at aught and increases throughout the day, again resets to aught on the aing trading day. Obviously, this cardinal consistently goes up, not down; you can’t disengage a sale. So far today, about 62 actor AMD shares accept afflicted hands. But the day is young.

Avg. Volume

On an boilerplate day, about 110 actor AMD shares change hands, so we’re about center admitting an boilerplate trading day. Comparing the circadian aggregate to the boilerplate aggregate gives you some abstraction of whether today’s trading is accustomed for that company. Is there an abnormal bulk of action today? Maybe the aggregation aloof appear some acceptable annual and a lot of bodies are affairs (and therefore, addition accumulation is selling) AMD’s stock. The bulk animation and the aggregate animation are both indicators of accustomed vs. abnormal action in a company’s shares, and they agency heavily in investors’ abstruse trading strategies.

Market Cap

How do you admeasurement the admeasurement of a company? Do you go by headcount, or the cardinal of aboveboard anxiety in their address building, or by anniversary sales? What about accumulation margins, or advance potential? There are a lot of agency to admeasurement “bigness” in accessible companies, but the best accepted way is by bazaar capitalization, or “market cap” for short.

It’s a simple number, really. It’s aloof the cardinal of shares assorted by the bulk per share. If your aggregation issued 1 actor shares on IPO day and they’re now trading for $4.25 per share, your bazaar cap is $4,250,000. It describes the “capitalization” – the money-ness – of your close in the bazaar (the banal market). Appealing simple.

When media letters say that Apple is the aboriginal trillion-dollar aggregation in history, or that Google is bigger than General Motors, they’re apropos to bazaar cap. It’s the distinct easiest way to barometer the all-embracing admeasurement of a company. Alike though, as we’ve seen, the aggregation itself has about annihilation to do with its own allotment price. Bazaar cap is a barometer of what the accessible thinks of the aggregation (specifically, the shareholding public), not what the aggregation thinks of itself.

Theoretically, your own aggregation can ability an astronomic bazaar cap by accomplishing annihilation at all. If investors anticipate that you’re on a rocket ride to advantage and alpha behest up the stock, your bazaar cap will access through no efforts of your own. It works the added way, too, of course. If investors lose aplomb in your company, your allotment price, and appropriately your bazaar cap, will fall. Not abundant you can do about it either way.


A company’s “beta” or “beta coefficient” is aloof one of abounding (many, many, many…) acquired ethics that investors use to try to appraisal a company’s growth. It’s a admeasurement of volatility: how abundant does this company’s banal alter compared to added companies, or compared to some aloof benchmark? A beta bulk of 1.0 agency the aggregation is absolutely as airy as the allegory (i.e., they both behave about the aforementioned over time). A bulk beneath than 1.0 agency it’s beneath volatile, and greater than 1.0 is added volatile. It looks actuality like AMD is about 4× added airy than average. That sounds about right.

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This distinct cardinal leaves out a lot of information, of course. What are we comparing AMD’s shares to? The all-around bazaar as a whole? Added technology stocks? Aloof semiconductor stocks? Some array of index, like the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Boilerplate (DJIA)? Also, over how abundant time? In this case, it’s a three-year corruption boilerplate (that’s the “Beta (3y)” part).

PE Arrangement (TTM)

Here’s addition acronym for a cardinal advised to advice you adumbrate the bulk of a stock. In this case, it’s arrangement of allotment bulk to the company’s profits (earnings), averaged over the aftermost year. The addition is simple, but the numbers charge some explanation.

Roll that all up and what do you get? The PE arrangement gives you a cardinal (95.09 in this case) to barometer how big-ticket the allotment bulk is compared to the company’s profits. Because the price, P, and the earnings, E, are both abstinent per-share, this gives you some abstraction of how abundant it would bulk for you to buy a allotment of the company’s bartering potential. A aerial PE arrangement agency that investors are optimistic about the aggregation and its prospects. A low PE arrangement agency investors aren’t accommodating to pay abundant aloft a year’s annual of profits for a allotment of the company’s stock.

Note that the PE arrangement isn’t a dollar price, it’s aloof a number. Anticipate of it as a multiplier or a coefficient. Also, the P allotment (the allotment price) changes constantly, but the E allotment (the balance per share) changes alone four times a year, aback the aggregation announces its annual results. High-tech companies like AMD tend to accept abundant college PE ratios than stodgier “blue chip” stocks. It doesn’t accomplish abundant faculty to analyze PE ratios amid companies in altered industries (agriculture against semiconductors, for example), but comparing AMD and Intel is sensible.   


Earnings-per-share, or EPS, is a basal assurance of the company’s profitability. As we saw above, it’s the company’s all-embracing accumulation disconnected by the cardinal of shares in the trading pool. In AMD’s case, it’s authoritative $0.29 accumulation for anniversary share. If AMD were to accord abroad that accumulation to its shareholders, anybody would get 29 cents for anniversary allotment they owned. Positive numbers are good; abrogating numbers are bad.

The TTM (trailing twelve months) allotment agency that this 0.29 cardinal is taken not aloof from the best contempo balance report, but is averaged over the aftermost four quarters. This smooths out concise variations in balance and gives you (you hope) a bigger abstraction of the company’s accumulation potential.

Earnings Date

Finally! An easy-to-understand date. “Earnings date” is artlessly the almost date of the aing accessible acknowledge of the company’s banking details. All accessible companies are accurately appropriate to acknowledge their banking after-effects four times per year (that is, quarterly), and this tells you the aing time that will happen. It’s a one-week ambit instead of an exact date because companies are accustomed some elbowroom in timing their accessible announcements.

If the aftermost annual address was adequately recent, again you and all the added investors are up to date on the company’s status. If it’s been awhile, though, you and anybody abroad will be advance based on old information. Changes in allotment bulk generally appear appropriate before, and appropriate after, those annual announcements.

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Forward Allotment & Yield

Some companies absolutely pay you to authority assimilate their stock. They booty a allocation of their profits and canyon it out to shareholders as a “dividend.” It’s like a accumulation annual at the coffer that pays you a baby bulk of absorption on a approved basis.

Not all companies pay dividends, and actual few high-tech companies do it at all. Assets are mostly an old-school “blue chip” thing, because they accomplish up for the abridgement of agitative advance opportunities. If you appetite risk, you advance in high-tech, high-growth stocks area the allotment bulk may acceleration abominably (or blast aloof as dramatically). But if you’re a “widows and orphans” investor, a baddest banal that’s action boilerplate but that pays out a baby allotment every division is a nice alternative.

Assuming the aggregation you’re advance in does pay dividends, this cardinal will activity what those payments ability be for the advancing year. Like EPS, it’s annualized to bland out concise fluctuations. And, like the PE ratio, it’s affected per-share, so that you can bulk out what your booty will be. And finally, it’s bidding as a percentage, not a dollar amount, so you still accept to do some math.  

Ex-Dividend Date

This is artlessly the aftermost time the aggregation paid dividends, if ever. In AMD’s case, it hasn’t paid its shareholders assets aback April 1995.

1y Target Est.

This is the alone cardinal (on this screen, anyway) that isn’t a adamantine bulk based on actual data. It’s a guess. An accomplished guess, perhaps, but still a guess, of area the allotment bulk will be in a year.

Financial analysts accomplish their active by analytical accessible companies, putting their aerial to the ground, account tea leaves, sacrificing goats, and countless added techniques to all-powerful the motions of the banal market. They cycle up that intelligence and advertise their prognostications and estimations to their clients, who again accomplish advance decisions based on that information. Aback several absolute analysts all chase the aforementioned aggregation – which is accepted for ample firms like AMD – again this cardinal will reflect their accumulated projections. This is what’s meant by “analyst estimates” or “the Wall Street consensus” of a company’s approaching earnings.

It’s a SWAG. And it’s generally abominably out of date on accessible sites like this one. To get the latest analyst estimates, you accept to pay the analyst(s).

Shares Outstanding (not shown)

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Although this table doesn’t appearance it, a advantageous cardinal to apperceive is “shares outstanding,” or added simply, the absolute cardinal of shares the aggregation has issued and are now trading on the banal market. In AMD’s case, it’s about 975 actor shares. Multiply that by the $27.46 bulk per allotment and you get the $26 billion bazaar cap we saw earlier. Easy!

Float (not shown)

The “float” is a subset of the shares that are absolutely accessible for trading. It’s a somewhat abate cardinal than the absolute shares outstanding because some shares are captivated by “insiders” who can’t barter their shares in the accustomed way. That account ability accommodate you. Insiders are bodies who accept special, central ability of the company’s affairs and are accordingly accurately belted in how they can buy and advertise shares. Insiders are accounted to accept an arbitrary advantage over the boilerplate investor, so they accept to comedy by altered rules. Added on that aing week.  

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