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Level 1 trading quotes

Whether you’re watching TV, listening to the radio, or browsing the Internet, you’re likely to come across complicated stock market figures. Knowing how to read and understand quotes is an essential part of managing an investment portfolio. Whether you’re a “buy & hold investor” or a very active trader, understanding the basics of a level 1 quote is the foundation for success.

There can be a lot of unfamiliar terms when looking at one of these quotes for the first time, so we’re here to help make this as easy as possible. This article will help you expand your level 1 quote reading skills. Level 1 quotes provide the most basic and essential information you need to know before making a trade, including bid/ask/last prices, and much more.

To start, choose your preferred trading platform.

  • SwitchArrow Questrade Trading (web)

    To view a level 1 quote for a Stock or ETF, follow these three easy steps:

    Top left navigation choose accounts then trading

    1. Log in to Questrade Trading

    If you’re on the ‘ACCOUNTS’ side of the Questrade website after logging in, please click “Accounts” then “Trading” from the top left navigation menu.

     

    Click stocks left enter ticker symbol in search box

    2. Click the “Stocks” menu button on the left

    3. Enter the “Ticker symbol” for the stock or ETF you’d like to view

    Tickers are short forms of company names. You can also search for the company name using the symbol lookup tool if you don’t know the ticker specifically. 

    Note: All tickers shown are for example, educational purposes only.

    Please note: By default for new Questrade accounts, quotes are delayed by up to 15 minutes. You can either use our free ‘snap quote’ function to get the live up-to-date price action, or subscribe to our Enhanced data streaming package. Learn more about our other packages here.

    We’ll start by breaking down the quote snapshot above the level 1 table.

    quote snapshot above level 1 table
    1. This is the company name, and the exchange it trades on
    2. The plus button can be used to add this ticker to your watch list(s)
    3. The last traded price
    4. Dollar gain (or loss in red) since market open (9:30 am ET)
    5. Percentage gain (or loss) since market open
    6. The snap quote button
      • By clicking this, the information will update to be live.
      • After you click this, the time shown on the right side of the button will be how ‘old’ your quote is.
    7. When you click the Buy/Sell button, the ticker & other information will be copied to the “Order entry” window on the right side of the page.

    Moving on to the actual Level 1 quote table below, let’s understand what Bid & Asks are

    level 1 table bid and ask circled

    The Bid is the highest price buyers are willing to pay

    The Ask is the lowest price sellers are willing to receive

    You can think of the stock market as a giant auction house. Rather than a group of buyers, and one seller/auctioneer; instead there’s a large group of both buyers and sellers all around the world.

    When the number of buyers increases, the Bid price also tends to rise

    When the number of sellers increases, the Ask price also tends to fall

    The difference between these is also known as the Bid-Ask spread, or just the “spread”. The size of the spread usually depends on how much volume there is being traded overall for that specific ticker.

    The “Bid and Ask sz” refers to the amount of shares in ‘board lots’ being offered at the bid or ask price. 

    Board lots represent groups of shares, and are different depending on if it’s a CAD or USD security. 

    Canadian exchanges - (TSX, TSX.V, CNSX & etc)U.S. exchanges - (NYSE, NASDAQ, OTC, PINX)
    100 shares for securities trading over $1.00100 shares for all securities, regardless of price
    500 shares for securities trading between $0.10 and $1.00 
    1,000 shares for securities trading below $0.10 

    For options trading, 1 board lot is equal to 1 option contract. This in turn represents 100 shares of the underlying.

    Next, let’s take a look at the other relevant price info

    level 1 table high low circled

    The High represents the highest traded price today of an entire board lot.

    (During normal market hours between 9:30 am ET and 4:00 pm ET)

    The Low represents the lowest traded price today of an entire board lot.

    Highs and lows are only triggered if a trade is made for an entire board lot, a trade of 5 shares for example would not change the high or low for the day.

    The Open shows what the price was at market open today (9:30 am ET)

    The Prev close shows the last traded price at market close on the last trading day (4:00 pm ET)

    On to the next row, let’s cover what volume and market cap represent

    level 1 table volume market cap highlighted

    Vol shows the volume of trading for today so far, and Avg vol shows the average amount of volume on any given day.

    (Volume is amount of shares that have ‘traded hands’ since market open)

    The 52 week high and 52 week low represent the highest and lowest traded prices for this security in the last calendar year.

    Last trade shows the last day a trade occurred for this security. (This will usually be today’s date unless a security is halted, delisted, or has extremely low volume being traded)

    Mkt cap represents the overall ‘value’ of the company. To obtain the market cap, simply multiply the last traded price by the amount of shares outstanding.

    Shares shows how many shares for this security are publicly traded.

    EPS and P/E represent two very important ‘fundamental’ stock indicators

    Fundamental analysis represents looking at a company’s financial performance like profits, expenses and much more.

    level 1 table EPS and PE circled

    EPS or Earnings per share is also known as the ‘bottom-line’ of a company’s financials and profitability. EPS is a company’s net income (profits minus expenses) divided by the number of publicly traded shares. 

    For this example, in 2020 Apple’s net income was approximately ~$57.4 billion, if we divide this by the number of shares (~17 billion) we get 3.37 which is roughly equal to the EPS. 

    P/E is known as the price/earnings ratio, and is another important indicator of a company’s profitability & overall financial health. The basic formula to get your P/E is to divide the last traded stock price by the Earnings per share (EPS).

    In this example, Apple’s last traded price was $127.81, divided by 3.28, we get our P/E of 38.96.

    Next, let’s take a closer look at the bottom rows - Dividend and earnings information

    A dividend is a reward paid to shareholders of certain stocks or other securities. In most cases, dividend paying companies are larger, more profitable, and can afford to pay out a portion of their profits each year to their shareholders.

    level 1 table dividend yield and earnings date

    Yield refers to the Dividend yield for the entire year, and is a percentage of the last traded price. Dividends are generally paid quarterly, but can also be monthly, or even yearly in some cases.

    The Div amount shown here in the level 1 quote is the dollar amount of the last dividend payment and is equal to the Div % of the last traded price, divided by the number of payments in a year. (127.81*0.0064)/4 = ~$0.205

    The Ex-date shown here is the cutoff date that you would have to own the shares by to receive the dividend. If you purchase the shares on or after the ex-date, you will not receive the dividend.

    You can also view the estimated earnings date for the security here. Earnings are when a company announces it’s financial results for the quarter, and are usually announced a few weeks ahead of time.

    Lastly, let’s move on to the bottom right where we can view important margin and shorting-related info

    level 1 table margin requirements highlighted

    Security type is the type of asset. This represents whether this is a stock, ETF, ADR or another more exotic type of publicly traded security.

    Long and Short MR represent the margin requirement for this security. This only applies to Margin accounts specifically where you are able to ‘leverage’ or borrow funds to trade with. The margin requirement is the percentage of the investment you have to pay for to obtain it on margin by borrowing.

    In this example, Apple’s margin requirement is 30%, and the last traded price is ~$127.80. Therefore to buy one share of AAPL on margin, you’d have to pay $38.34, and the remaining $89.46 would be borrowed from Questrade. You can learn more about margin and margin accounts here.

    Long MR is when you’re buying the asset, and Short MR is when you’re shorting (borrowing to sell) the asset.

    The Borrow rate represents the annual interest rate for holding a short position overnight past 5:30 pm ET. Borrow rates can also change anytime throughout the day up until 2 pm ET depending on the security’s market value, demand, and available inventory. You can also learn more about borrowing, shorting and these rates here.

  • SwitchArrow IQ Edge (desktop)

    To view level 1 quotes using our IQ Edge desktop trading application, please follow these steps:

    click icon level 1 widget IQ edge

    1. Download and install IQ Edge (If you haven’t already done so)

    2. Open the program, and log in with your Questrade credentials

    3. Click the ‘Level 1’ icon from the top navigation bar on the left side.

    When you first open up the level 1 widget, you can also customize which fields are shown

    IQ Edge level 1 widget click triangle top right

    Click the small triangle button near the top right side of the level 1 widget, then click ‘select fields’. On the pop-up box shown you can choose to hide or show certain fields within the widget.

    This can be useful to help focus on only the information that’s important to you.

    We’ll start by breaking down the quote snapshot above and below the level 1 table.

    IQ Edge level 1 widget ticker and quote at top highlighted

    At the top left, you can see the ticker symbol you’re viewing, and search for other securities by name or ticker.

    Below this, you’ll see the full name of the security listed, and below that is the last traded price.

    You can also see the dollar and percentage return since the start of the trading day here at the top, and also the currency this security trades in.

    At the bottom of the widget, your view will change depending on if you subscribe to an enhanced, or advanced data package.

    With a streaming package, it will show real-time bids, asks, and sizes, however with our default package, instead you will see a button with “Snap Quote”. When this is clicked, the price is updated to be live.

    Please note: By default for new Questrade accounts, quotes are delayed by up to 15 minutes. You can either use our free ‘snap quote’ function to get the live up-to-date price action, or subscribe to our Enhanced data streaming package. Learn more about our other packages here.

    Moving on to the actual Level 1 quote table below, let’s understand what Bid & Asks are

    IQ Edge level 1 widget bid and ask circled

    The Bid is the highest price buyers are willing to pay

    The Ask is the lowest price sellers are willing to receive

    You can think of the stock market as a giant auction house. Rather than a group of buyers, and one seller/auctioneer; instead there’s a large group of both buyers and sellers all around the world.

    When the number of buyers increases, the Bid price also tends to rise

    When the number of sellers increases, the Ask price also tends to fall

    The difference between these is also known as the Bid-Ask spread, or just the “spread”. The size of the spread usually depends on how much volume there is being traded overall for that specific ticker.

    The “Bid and Ask sz” refers to the amount of shares in ‘board lots’ being offered at the bid or ask price. 

    Board lots represent groups of shares, and are different depending on if it’s a CAD or USD security. 

    Canadian exchanges - (TSX, TSX.V, CNSX & etc)U.S. exchanges - (NYSE, NASDAQ, OTC, PINX)
    100 shares for securities trading over $1.00100 shares for all securities, regardless of price
    500 shares for securities trading between $0.10 and $1.00 
    1,000 shares for securities trading below $0.10 

    For options trading, 1 board lot is equal to 1 option contract. This in turn represents 100 shares of the underlying.

    Next, let’s take a look at the other relevant price info

    IQ Edge level 1 widget high low open close circled

    The High represents the highest traded price today of an entire board lot.

    (During normal market hours between 9:30 am ET and 4:00 pm ET)

    The Low represents the lowest traded price today of an entire board lot.

    The Open shows what the price was at market open today (9:30 am ET)

    The Prev close shows the last traded price at market close on the last trading day (4:00 pm ET)

    The 52w high and 52w low represent the highest and lowest traded prices for this security in the last year.

    Moving on to the next column, let’s take a look at the dividend information

    IQ Edge level 1 widget dividend and last trade circled

    Yield refers to the Dividend yield for the entire year, and is a percentage of the last traded price. Dividends are generally paid quarterly, but can also be monthly, or even yearly in some cases.

    The Div amount shown here in the level 1 quote is the dollar amount of the last dividend payment and is equal to the Div % of the last traded price, divided by the number of payments in a year. (367.96*0.0153)/4 = ~$1.58

    The Ex-date shown here is the cutoff date that you would have to own the shares by to receive the dividend. If you purchase the shares on or after the ex-date, you will not receive the dividend.

    You can also view the estimated earnings date for the security here. Earnings are when a company announces it’s financial results for the quarter, and are usually announced a few weeks ahead of time.

    Last trade shows the last day a trade occurred for this security.

    (This will usually be today’s date unless a security is halted, delisted, or has extremely low volume being traded)

    At the bottom of the second column, we can see two important fundamental indicators P/E and EPS

    IQ Edge level 1 widget PE and EPS highlighted

    EPS is also known as the ‘bottom-line’ of a company’s financials and profitability. EPS is a company’s net income (profits minus expenses) divided by the number of publicly traded shares.

    For this example, neither EPS or P/E are shown because this is an ETF security. (Group of other assets like stocks, bonds and other.) When you view a stock however, EPS and P/E will be visible.

    P/E is known as the price/earnings ratio, and is another important indicator of a company’s profitability & overall financial health. The basic formula to get your P/E is to divide the last traded stock price by the Earnings per share (EPS).

    The third column shows other information about volume, margin requirements and more.

    IQ Edge level 1 widget Margin information highlighted

    Vol shows the volume of trading for today so far, and Avg vol shows the average amount of volume on any given day.

    (Volume is amount of shares that have ‘traded hands’ since market open)

    Tick is the latest price action, and whether or not the security has moved up or down in price from one trade to the next.

    Mkt cap represents the overall ‘value’ of the company. To obtain the market cap, simply multiply the last traded price by the amount of shares outstanding.

    Shares shows how many shares for this security are publicly traded.

    Long and Short MR represent the margin requirement for this security. This only applies to Margin accounts specifically where you are able to ‘leverage’ or borrow funds to trade with. The margin requirement is the percentage of the investment you have to pay for to obtain it on margin by borrowing.

    Long MR is when you’re buying the asset, and Short MR is when you’re shorting (borrowing to sell) the asset.

    The Borrow rate represents the annual interest rate for holding a short position overnight past 5:30 pm ET. Borrow rates can also change anytime throughout the day up until 2 pm ET depending on the security’s market value, demand, and available inventory. You can also learn more about borrowing, shorting and these rates here.

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