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So KO is clearly NYSE:KO, and GOOG is clearly NASDAQ:GOOG, but are tickers generally unique (between NYSE and Nasdaq)? If I mention a stock ABC and you know by context it's traded on an American exchange, can you always figure out which exchange (and by extension, which company) "ABC" refers to? This article suggests you used to be able to tell because Nasdaq symbols were four characters while NYSE used 3 or fewer characters. Now that that isn't the case, is there any way to know where a symbol is traded?

Put another way, do Nasdaq and NYSE intentionally coordinate ticker symbols, so that there are no symbols used by both exchanges simultaneously? Or are there / could there be symbols used by both exchanges which refer to different companies (e.g. a NASDAQ:ABC and NYSE:ABC that aren't related)?

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You cannot determine this solely by the ticker length.

However, there are some conventions that may help steer you there. Nasdaq has 2-4 base letters BATS has 4 base letters NYSE equity securities have 1-4 base letters. NYSE Mkt (formerly Amex) have 1-4 base letters. NYSE Arca has 4 base letters OTC has 4 base letters.

Security types other than equities may have additional letters added, and each exchange (and data vendors) have different conventions for how this is handled.

So if you see "T" for a US-listed security it would be only be either NASDAQ, NYSE or NYSE Mkt.

If you see "ANET" then you cannot tell which exchange it is listed on. (In this case, ANET Arista Networks is actually a NYSE stock).

For some non-equity security types, such as hybrids, and debt instruments, some exchanges add "P" to the end for "preferreds" (Nasdaq and OTC) and NYSE/NYSE Mkt have a variety of methods (including not adding anything) to the ticker. Examples include NYSE:TFG, NYSEMkt:IPB, Nasdaaq: AGNCP, Nasdaq:OXLCN. It all becomes rather confusing given the changes in conventions over the years.

Essentially, you require data that provides you with ticker, listing location and security type.

The exchanges allocate security tickers in conjunction with the SEC so there are no overlaps. eg. The same ticker cannot represent two different securities.

However, tickers can be re-used. For example, the ticker AB has been used by the following companies:

  • Ambac Industries Inc Common Share (delisted July 1978)
  • ABA Industries Inc Common Share (delisted January 1983)
  • ABI American Businessphones Common Share (delisted October 1988)
  • Alex Brown Inc Common Share (delisted August 1997)
  • Cannon Express Inc Common Share (delisted October 2003)
  • AllianceBernstein Holding L.P. Unit (currently listed)
  • Right, my question wasn't about heuristics for guessing. It's about name collisions. Do Nasdaq and NYSE intentionally coordinate ticker symbols, so that there are no symbols used by both exchanges simultaneously? – dimo414 Jan 31 '16 at 18:32
  • Yes - they do this in conjunction with the SEC. – Norgate Data Jan 31 '16 at 21:55
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    i.e. there are no collisions with currently listed securities between listing exchanges. – Norgate Data Dec 1 '17 at 2:32
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Things are in fact more complicated.

It really depends what you mean by "ticker" and who gave you this ticker.

There is several codes to identify a security:

  • the Bloomberg code
  • the Reuters RIC
  • the ISIN code
  • the SEDOL code

The Bloomberg code contains a code to identify the exchange as in ALU:FP the FP part refers to Euronext Paris. The RIC code works the same way but with a different convention.

Exchanges are identified by the MIC code.(they are in fact divided in market segments with each market segment having a main market segment)

ISIN and SEDOL codes do not provide informations about the exchange so they are usually given with a MIC.

There is no guarantee that Reuters and Bloomberg won't use the same company code to refer to different company. But they usually use the exchange ticker.

This ticker is requested by each company and can be anything. They are accepted most of the time. But sometimes to avoid confusion some requests are rejected. (For instance FBI ticker was refused)

For more info read: The evolution of ticker symbols

Financial providers like Bloomberg provides services to be informed when a security is added/removed from a market.

  • Thanks for the link; I know there's a lot of complexity involving identifiers of different securities on different exchanges and services. I'm asking simply about the symbols assigned by NYSE and Nasdaq. – dimo414 Jan 31 '16 at 18:34

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