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What is a "ticker symbol"?

A ticker symbol is a unique series of characters, as many as five characters long, that identifies the name of the investment actively traded on an exchange. For example, Google is known as GOOG on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) exchange, and Ford is known as F on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Why were these machines called Stock Ticker Machines?

The machines were called ticker machines because of the distinctive ticking noise the machines made while printing the ticker symbol and brief information about the stock price, on thin paper called ticker tape.

Specifically, what do ticker symbols indicate?

When you see ticker symbols moving across a screen, they usually tell us several things. The abbreviated letters, of one to five characters in length, indicate on what exchange the stock is listed. Symbols that are from one to three characters represent companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, while symbols that are four or five characters represent companies listed on the NASDAQ Exchange. What you often see after the stock symbol is a recent price, change in price, and, in some instances, the volume of shares traded. You still see ticker symbols today, and the above information floating across a television screen or monitor as you watch financial programming or peruse financial websites.

What are "dividends"?

Dividends are the distributions of profits or earnings of a company to shareholders of record. It is generally defined as a distribution of some of the company's profit to a specific class of shareholders as determined by that company's board of directors, and is usually issued on a per share basis. If you have more shares, you are paid more of the company's earnings during the period set forth by the board of directors.

 
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