Getting fundamental and price data for international stocks


Getting data on foreign stocks is much more awkward than you’d expect. That’s because most data providers catering to individual investors still focus on just one or two countries, rather than offering a global service.

While you can usually find a data service for each international market, it’s hard to get them all in one account. This is a real inconvenience, since most investors don’t want 10 separate data accounts, many of which they’ll use only once a year.

Institutional investors can get all-in-one global price and fundamental data from firms such as Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, Interactive Data, Morningstar, S&P Capital IQ, FactSet and Sungard. These offer the most comprehensive data feeds available.

Unfortunately, they don’t cater to private investors. While these providers often don’t quote subscription fees openly because they are subject to negotiation, Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters are in the region of $1,500-2,000 per user per month, while cheaper offerings such as Morningstar Direct and Sungard Marketmap will still set you back several hundreds of dollars per month.

The good news is that there are providers that cater to investors with smaller budgets. The bad news is that still seems to be a gap in the market for sensibly priced but reasonably comprehensive data. Either you get less data than you ideally want or you pay through the nose for more than you need.

But there are a few resources and providers that are useful to international investors. A few of them are even free. So let’s take a look at what’s available.

Continue reading »

What is level 2 data?


When you sign up for a brokerage account you will often be given a choice of how timely and detailed you want market price information to be. The most basic option is to have delayed data. This means that the bid and offer prices and the trading volumes you see on your screen are not live, but delayed by 15-30 minutes.

To get the latest quote at which you can trade, you need to open a trading window for the specific stock you’re interested in. This is not because your broker is trying to make life awkward for you.

Rather, it’s because data distribution is controlled by the stock exchange – and since streaming live data has a value to traders, they charge for it. In some cases, they charge quite a lot.

Continue reading »