Is it Happening “Across the Board”?

by Investing School on July 18, 2011

Spend a little time listening to stock market reports and you will inevitably hear some pundit say that something is happening “across the board.” Are they referring to some unknown board game? If you consider investing in the market a game, then yes, but what it really means is that prices are either rising, or dropping, in all categories.

Wonder where this strange expression came from? It used to be that the New York Stock Exchange, the NYSE, actually had a large board upon which stock prices were actually written. If prices were changing all over the place, they were literally “across the board.” In fact, you will still hear the NYSE referred to as the “big board” on occasion.

Knowing this might help you make decisions relating to when to buy or sell specific investments. After all, you want to purchase new investments when prices are down “across the board” and then sell when they are up. The critical factor is to know when prices have bottomed out or have risen as far as they are likely to go.

Ever wonder just how big that big board is? Over 2000 common stocks are traded on the NYSE daily, and with a history that extends back to 1792, when the market began under a simple buttonwood tree, it is no surprise that the Exchange maintains its popularity. Not surprisingly, where there is a big board there is a little one too. The American Stock Exchange (AMEX) retains that distinction, although it wasn’t always an affectionate nickname.

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