Stock Chart Basics To Understand and Use

The following are the open, high, low, and previous close. The open price is the opening price of a stock during regular market hours. High and low are the highest and lowest stock prices during that time. The closing price on the previous trading day is called the Previous Close. 


Market cap. 

Market cap is also known as “Mktcap” and measures a company’s size based on its share count on the stock exchange multiplied with its current share price. Apple’s market cap is $2.1 trillion. This is one of the most important companies in the world. Learn more about market cap with this chart patterns cheat sheet PDF.


The PE ratio. 

This is the price-to-earnings (or PE) ratio that investors use to determine if a stock has a low value , high value or fair value. Get more information about PE ratio.


Dividend yield

Dividend yield is also known as “Div yield” and it tells how much an investor might receive in dividends (cash payouts companies may offer to shareholders). It is expressed as a percentage the current share price. Apple’s quarterly dividend was $0.2050 per share in the last four quarters. Divide that number by 4, for a full-year dividend, and you’ll get $0.82. This is 0.6% of Apple’s current share price of $125.12. Learn more about dividends.

52-week high and low. The 52-week high represents the highest stock price during the previous 52 weeks. The 52-week low, on the other hand, is the lowest stock price during the 52 weeks.


Stock Chart Terms That Are More Advanced

Google’s charts can be quite basic, which makes them an excellent place to start learning. You’ll be able to learn more terms once you begin studying more advanced charts.


Ask and bid

The price an investor will pay to buy a stock is called the bid. For example, if the bid is $124.61, investors will buy the stock for $124.61 per share. The ask is the lowest price that an investor will sell a stock. A seller selling a stock for $124.65 per unit if they have an ask of $124.65.

The bid-ask spread is $0.04 between them. Spreads tend to be lower when there is a lot of trading activity and willing buyers or sellers. Spreads can be larger when there is less trading activity, such as after-hours trading and trading in less popular stocks. Spreads that are larger can make it more difficult for investors to execute their trades or get the trade through at the desired price.

Volume, average volume, and the day’s range


Volume is the total number of shares traded that day. Average volume, on the other hand, shows the average daily volume over a specific period. The Day’s Range shows the highest and the lowest stock prices traded up to the moment of the trading day.



Beta is the ratio of a stock’s stock price to the stock market. This can be used as a gauge of the stock’s risk. Beta greater than one indicates that the stock is more volatile than the stock markets (typically the S&P 500 and total stock market indexes) over the period. If beta is lower than one, but higher than zero, the stock has been less volatile than overall market over that time. Past performance is not indicative of future performance, however.


Earnings date and EPS (TTM).

TTM stands for earnings per share over the past 12 months. This number is also known as the “E” in the PE ratio. This number can be obtained by multiplying the most recent company earnings by how many shares the company has on the stock exchange. The earnings date is the public window in which the company will announce its quarterly earnings.


Ex-dividend date

To receive the company’s next dividend, you must become a shareholder, that is, purchase its stock, before the ex-dividend day. You won’t receive the dividend if you purchase the stock after the ex-dividend day. As far as dividends go, procrastination doesn’t pay.


1-year target estimate

This is an estimate for the stock’s potential price in one year. This reading is often a consensus of several analysts’ 1-year price targets. However, while analysts use complex calculations to arrive at these estimates, it’s still a forecast. Forecasts can also be inaccurate, as any local meteorologist will attest.

Keep these points in mind as you continue to learn about stock charts:

Stocks rarely move in the same direction. Swings are common.

A big spike or a huge slump might not appear to be the case. The y-axis shows prices. Prices can vary from a few cents to a few bucks depending on which stock is being traded.

Stock prices may rise in the short-term, but that could be just a temporary blip during a long-term decline. For a better picture of trading activity, look at longer time horizons (one to three years, five years and five year).

Some charts may not be appropriate for your time frame. If you plan to invest for 20 years, it won’t make any sense to look at an intraday price graph that only shows one day’s fluctuations. However, a day trader may find it useful.