Consolidated tapes are electronic systems that allow for the real time transmission of the current prices and volume activity of all stocks currently listed on various exchanges. The system functions in online access and the traditional ticker tape approach used by many stock exchanges. Because consolidated tape allows widespread access to the latest trading activity, many investors make use of the Internet to keep up with their investments via the consolidated tape feed.
The use of consolidated tape as the resource for reporting on trading conditions is very common. Cable networks that provide updates on stock activity make use of consolidated tape as their source of information. Web sites that provide tips and advice for investors in like manner often make use of the consolidated tape as a means of offering up to the minute stock reports. This makes it possible to keep up with trading volume utilizing several different portals to reach the information carried by a consolidated tape.
Ticker tapes of this type continually report the activity of securities that are listed on the NYSE, as well as any of the regional stock exchanges that participate in the exchange. The same type of setup is employed with AMEX as well, reporting both the securities traded on AMEX proper as well as any other participating markets and exchanges. The combined detail can often prove very helpful for investors with varied investments.
The sources of the data contained on a consolidated tape can come from various securities exchanges, market centers, electronic communications networks, and even from third market brokers or dealers. In general, the level of detail is comprehensive and will include a wide range of securities and investment types. As far as format goes, the structure of the information reported on a consolidated tape is no more difficult to understand than reading the performance ratings found in the financial section of a daily newspaper. What is different is that the consolidated tape offers the most current information available, with ongoing updates released through the trading day.