Sites Worth Seeing
WHEN I TAUGHT AT the University of North Florida, I always sought to arm my finance students with the best tools of the trade. College textbooks are notoriously expensive, so I aimed to provide some great free resources. Few things get me more pumped than when I come across an impressive financial website—one that doesn’t charge.
One of the most frequent questions from students: What sites do I visit every day? I would often share stories in class about various writing assignments and investment projects I was working on, so that probably sparked the students’ curiosity. In the end, my recommendations came down to the handful of stock market pages and financial information sites listed below.
There are so many types of data-digging you can do when it comes to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, portfolio management, news, charts—the list goes on and on. I gravitate to simple, quality charts and one-stop shops. I try to avoid sites I have to register for and, heaven forbid, whip out my credit card to use. Being on the impatient side, I also don’t want to spend too much time creating my own graphs, tables and data series.
Here are four fantastic free sites that meet my standards and offer great visuals:
- Yardeni.com. Economist Ed Yardeni’s treasure trove has pretty much all the economic information, in chart form, you could want. Many of Yardeni’s charts are updated daily.
- Fidelity.com. I hop over to Fidelity Investments’ site whenever I want to compare exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or even individual stocks. What I find especially useful are the research reports available on just about every stock and ETF. While the site and an account are free, some tools require you to have a Fidelity login.
- Vanguard.com. Want to see charts on index funds? Vanguard Group is your place. There are easy-to-read tables and pie charts that detail what’s inside the index funds so many of us own. Another feature I like is Vanguard’s target-date fund explanations and portfolio glide path visuals. I’ve shared that page with my students during asset allocation lectures.
- Fred.StLouisFed.org. Any economic geek knows FRED, short for Federal Reserve economic data, the popular public website run by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The charts might take some tweaking, but you can find almost any economic barometer you want. I use it often when citing data in my day job. The “download to Excel” feature makes creating charts simple.
College kids love the excitement of the markets. I would urge them to be cautious, but I still wanted to equip them with the best day-to-day pages for stock-watching. I have four websites that provide great market summaries, which I prefer over clunky news sites:
- TradingView.com. As a freelance market analyst, I keep a watchlist of index ETFs, commodity prices, interest rates and even some cryptocurrencies. I use TradingView’s charts to plot data that can go back decades. It’s helpful to keep a long-term perspective.
- Koyfin.com. Want the best one-stop market view? Go here. View market performance by sector, along with what’s happening with international index ETFs. I’d encourage my students to use Koyfin to graph fundamental company numbers, such as a firm’s price-earnings ratio or its historical sales trends. That’s quite handy for completing homework assignments.
- StockCharts.com. Not surprisingly, given the site’s name, this is a favorite place for stock charts. But I also like to use its performance graphs when prospecting for mutual funds and index data. Its sector “perf charts” web page is a regular stop for me.
- Finviz.com. Popular with many day traders, my favorite tool here is the market and ETF heat map. Users can also use the “bubbles” feature to plot index numbers, such as a graph of firms by market size or a dual-axis plot of S&P 500 companies’ market capitalizations and dividend yields.
I have a call to action for HumbleDollar readers: In the comments section below, let me know your favorite free financial resources. If there are enough great suggestions, next time I teach, this could even become my students’ go-to article for the best free financial tools. Maybe they’ll even be able to ditch those costly textbooks.
Mike Zaccardi is a freelance writer for financial advisors and investment firms. He’s a CFA® charterholder and Chartered Market Technician®, and has passed the coursework for the Certified Financial Planner program. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeZaccardi, connect with him via LinkedIn, email him at MikeCZaccardi@gmail.com and check out his earlier articles.
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