Statistics automatically update but aren't in real time. As on most other free financial Web sites, data is delayed by about 20 minutes.
The search box at the top of the home page lets you find information about a particular company. For example, to learn about Frontier Oil Corporation you would type in the name of the company or its stock symbol (FTO). When the company name appears on the drop-down list of choices, click on it or the Get Quotes box. Doing so will take you to a new screen that contains a variety of information about the stock, including recent news, discussions, and information about companies in the same sector.
The charts on Google Finance are more sophisticated than most. Each chart correlates market data with dated and lettered news stories from Google News, which compiles over 4,500 sources. The charts allow you to see the effect particular news stories have had on the price of the stock. For example, after reading a story about a company that raised its dividend several months ago, find the letter corresponding to that news story on the chart and to see the effect of the dividend change.
The charts are also interactive. Move your cursor over the chart to see the price and volume of a stock at any given time. You can see a photograph and view the biography and compensation of the company's CEO, just by mousing over the executive's name. What's more, you can click and drag the charts to different time periods. The Zoom feature enables you to track the stock's performance over given periods of time, ranging from one day to 10 years. In addition, you can sort the chart information by News Flags, volume, splits or dividends, and customize the chart's appearance.
Note that many of these features depend on Adobe's Flash player. If you don't already have the Flash player installed on your computer, you can download it for free from Adobe.
You can refine your Google Finance information with several advanced options:
- Compare information about specific stocks by selecting one stock and then clicking the Compare tab.
- Track information about splits (represented as S) and dividends (represented as D).
- Track the performance of different currencies. Each currency includes a link to its own page, which features a currency converter that lets you quickly compare values.
- Obtain multiple quotes by entering two or more ticker symbols in the search box.
- Track extended-hours or after-hours trading for certain stocks.
- Get automatic e-mail messages whenever there is news about companies that interest you.
- Add RSS feeds to your Google Finance page.
- Download prices, transactions and other information into a spreadsheet.
If you'd like to know more about Google Finance and related topics, follow the links on the next page.