A stock quote cites the prices (generally bid, ask and last) for a stock at a particular point during the trading day. The quotes may be either real-time or delayed by 15 to 20 minutes.
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), sometimes referred to as "the Big Board," was once the only way for buyers and sellers to trade shares of stock in companies registered for public trading. Organized in 1792, the NYSE is open for trading Monday through Friday, between 9:30am and 4:))PM EST with the exception of holidays designated by the Exchange several years in advance. Chiefly, these correspond with the federal calendar, except for the distinction the NYSE draws between Washington's Birthday and what, since 1968, has been termed Presidents' Day. While the NYSE closes on Presidents' Day, the closing is still referred to as being in honor of Washington's Birthday.
In 1792 only five securities were traded, but today approximately two billion shares are exchanged on the floor of the NYSE every trading day. The NYSE lists nearly 3000 companies and it is far from easy to make the grade and get listed. Some of the prerequisites: the company must have more than 2200 shareholders with an average daily trading volume of 100,000 shares minimum.
In June 2008 the NYSE announced that, like electronic exchange NASDAQ, it was going to begin making real-time stock quotes available to Web and media companies. Previously, anyone who wanted NYSE quotes that weren't delayed by at least 15 minutes had to get them through brokerages or subscription services. Now NYSE stock quotes are available through, for instance, Google Finance and MSN Money. It's also possible to get real-time NYSE stock quotes on your cell phone via sites such as CNBC Mobile, or with Google's mobile alerts.
It seems ridiculous now, less than two years later, that prior to the NYSE shaking off its cobwebs, people had to pay for a special service to track their investments (and stock interests) in real-time. So much of the Web has been instantaneous for so long that it's difficult to fathom how the Exchange benefitted from lagging behind in the 20th century regarding this one rather crucial issue. Since the NYSE and NASDAQ are the two largest stock exchanges in the nation, seems only logical that their listings appear simultaneously in real-time.