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Reference from Coast to Coast - Where Can I Find Historical Stock Prices?

By Beth Mrkvicka, Reference Librarian

Katten Muchin & Zavis, Chicago

Welcome to Reference From Coast to Coast: Sources and Strategies, a new monthly column written by the KMZ librarians. Headquartered in Chicago, Katten Muchin & Zavis has reference librarians in Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles. There are eight professional librarians who are assisted by a great support staff. The KMZ librarians field questions and participate in research in a myriad of subject areas. This column will highlight some of our favorite reference sources and research techniques in the hope that sharing information  will help you in your day to day jobs. We welcome all of your comments and questions, and would particularly like feedback on sources and strategies that YOU use for research on our column topics. 

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Published May 17, 1999

Where Can I Find Historical Stock Prices?

I'm dating myself with this admission, but how many of you remember spending time on the phone with the Standard & Poors stock quote desk to get historical quotes? And we all know from experience to save the year end edition of the Wall Street Journal. If you need a nicely formatted report and want to pay for your quotes, you can't beat Dow Jones' Tradeline database. But more and more websites are offering historical quote data.

BigCharts ( http://www.bigcharts.com/hquote/hquote.asp ) is a great place to get single day quotes back as far as 1985. The historical quotes tool will look up a security's exact closing price for you. Simply type in its symbol and a date. The quote provided only includes the closing price and any splits, but does not contain high and low information. A quick click on a chart icon takes you to a current chart for a stock, which provides more detailed information, including the 52 week range, volume, etc. Charts are available on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.

Yahoo! Finance ( http://chart.yahoo.com/m ) is my current personal favorite resource for stock information. Yahoo! Finance Charts claims to have data back to 1970, although my comparisons with BigCharts revealed some discrepancies. The best feature about the Yahoo! site is that it is possible to create a tabular report with a range of up to 200 rows of data. The tables are available in daily, weekly, monthly time frames and include the open, high, low, close, volume and adjusted close quotes. Charts are also available on Yahoo! Finance in various time frames (1- day, 5-day, 3-month, 1-year, 5-year). These are accessible from the real time quote search page (http://finance.yahoo.com/?u ) and include much of the same information available in the BigCharts charts. There is also a helpful and simple Symbols lookup feature here.

There are definite advantages to both sites. If you want a single day quote and quickly want to see a current chart, start with BigCharts. If you need a range of daily or monthly quotes for a particular stock, Yahoo Finance is the place to go. It probably goes without saying that you can't take anything for granted. If you find that one site doesn't have a quote from 1988 available for a certain company, try the other! And if it makes you feel more comfortable, it?s easy and quick enough to check both sites. Both have informative FAQs, provide details on the sources of their data and include disclaimers. As we are always quick to point out in Reference from Coast to Coast, you get what you pay for on the web ... and in this case, it's definitely worth the try!

Send any comments and suggestions to reference5@llrx.com.