Subject: Stocks - Price Data

Last-Revised: 30 Jan 2005
Contributed-By: Chris Lott (contact me)

Many people have asked me "how can I get the closing price for stock XY on date Z." A common variant is to get the close of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (or other stock index) for some given date or range. The answer is that you need to find a provider of historical data (also called historical quotes). If all you need is the open, high, low, close, and volume for a stock on some date, you're in luck, because this is available at no charge on the web (see below). However, if you want detailed data suitable for detailed analysis, such as the full report of every trade, you probably will have to pay for it.

Yahoo Finance offers historical stock price data. To get the data, find the current symbol for the security and use Yahoo Finance to get the latest quote. Then look in the left-hand column for a link to "Historical Prices" and click on it. At the bottom of the page you'll find a link to download the data in spreadsheet (comma-separated value, or .csv) format. You can retrieve data for stock indexes if you find the appropriate symbol; for example, Yahoo currently uses "^DJI" for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. However, if the stock is not currently traded, it appears that Yahoo doesn't offer the data.

If Yahoo doesn't have the data, visit a library with good newspaper archives. Look up the newspaper for the following day (most likely on microfilm) and print the section from the financial pages where the closing price appears. Print that page, and be sure to print the portion of the page showing the date. This may be the best way for people who are trying to establish a cost basis for some shares of stock that is no longer traded.

Here's a link to the Yahoo Finance page:
http://finance.yahoo.com/

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