How to read a stock quote

When you request a stock quote on your online trading platform or from an exchange web site, you will be presented with information that tells you a lot about a stock and how it’s trading that day, as well as other features of the stock, such as dividend yield.

A stock quote consists of the following important components:


This is the price at which the last trade on the stock occurred.

Bid and ask

The bid is the highest price currently being offered by a market participant to buy the stock.

The ask is the lowest price at which any market participant is willing to sell the stock.

The difference between the bid and the ask price is called the “spread.”

Bid and ask sizes

The size of the bid or the ask is simply the number of shares that are available at that time at the prevailing bid and ask prices.


The number of the stock’s shares that have been traded so far during that trading day. Stocks trading at high volumes are said to be highly liquid – in other words, they are easier to trade because more shares are changing hands.


This shows you the change in the stock’s price on that trading day, either by dollar amount or percentage.

High and low

The highest and lowest prices paid for the stock so far on that trading day.

52-week high and low

The highest and lowest prices that have been paid for the stock in the last 52 weeks.


The execution price of the first trade on the most recent trading day.

Previous close

The execution price of the last trade on the previous trading day.


The annual amount of the dividend paid out to shareholders.


This measures the ratio of the dividend to the stock price, and is expressed as a percentage. The dividend yield is determined by dividing the annual per-share dividend by the current share price of the stock.

Ex-dividend date

Shareholders who purchased the stock before this date will receive the dividend for that dividend period. Shareholders who bought the stock on or after the ex-dividend date will not.

Shares outstanding

The number of shares issued by the company.