How to Track the Stock Market

Investors purchase stocks to build financial resources over the long term. Tracking the stock market is part of monitoring the status of your portfolio holdings. Furthermore, financial market research enables you to recognize important factors that influence stocks so you can implement your investing strategy accordingly. Today’s technology presents real-time information, which effectively bridges the earlier divide between professional traders and smaller investors. Begin your tracking research by observing the overall market before narrowing down to individual stocks.

Monitor Stock Market Indexes

Match the appropriate stock market index to your investment portfolio or economic region of interest. In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are the three major stock market indexes. The Dow and S&P 500 track large-capitalization stocks such as Exxon Mobil and Wal-Mart. The Nasdaq is associated with technology companies, such as Apple and Google.

Watch financial programs on TV or pull up online portals for stock tickers that present the major indexes in real time. Bloomberg and CNBC both have a television and Internet presence where you can follow the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq throughout the day.

Study financial news stories on days when major indexes shift by at least 1 percent in value since the prior trading session. Significant political and economic events, such as elections and employment numbers, may be behind the volatility.

Monitor prevailing interest rates to foreshadow stock market performance. Lower interest rates are ideal for stocks because reduced borrowing costs translate into higher corporate profits.

Track Individual Stocks

List the individual stock holdings within your portfolio alongside investments that you are considering for purchase. Prioritize your list according to the financial value of each investment and identify their stock ticker symbols.

Pull up real-time stock quotes for companies that interest you by entering ticker symbols into online quote interfaces such as the one on Yahoo! Finance (see Resources). The daily newspaper reports on the prior trading session with stock market closing prices. Sequentially check share prices by researching quotes for your largest investments first.

Search for additional news about a company when its stock fluctuates by at least 1 percent in value. Company earnings reports and product launches may be contributing factors in dramatic swings in stock price.

Compare basic financial ratios for stocks of interest. Online stock-quote sources like Yahoo! Finance and newspapers will list price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios and dividend yields alongside share prices. Stocks with lower P/E ratios and higher dividend yields may present better value for investors.

Contact corporate investor relations departments at companies to get annual reports that summarize financial statements and business developments that affect your stocks. Compare this data against historical share prices to anticipate trends.


  • Avoid frequent alterations in your investing strategy in reaction to economic events that are constantly changing. Excessive trading leads to large brokerage commission costs, which will erode your returns. Furthermore, selling stocks in a panic may cause you to miss future gains as the market recovers.