The Elusive Search for Historical Canadian Stock Trading Prices

Canadian law firm librarians have an increasing challenge finding historical stock trading prices. This is the story thus far:

For many years we enjoyed the proprietary system from The Globe and Mail called “InfoGlobe” which primarily delivered news content but also had an archaic, difficult system that allowed for pulling up historical stock prices. Once we had become “dragon masters” after many hours of training and practice, we could quickly pull up any range of dates, any configuration of data (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) for any public company, existing, predecessor or deceased.

At the time we grumbled at the difficulty of it all. Programming in UNIX would be easier! Alas, I wish I had that system back.

InfoGlobe was sold to Dow Jones and was incorporated into their system, then called Dow Jones Interactive. But we lost the Canadian trading data system, replaced with an American-born system. Dow Jones later put together a joint venture with Reuters, and factiva was born. The system developed over time, but the power for searching Canadian stock prices disappeared.

On first blush the new system looked better. It was web-enabled and didn’t require extensive training. But the data! Data for Canadian companies was questionable. When I first started using the system, I would pull up data from factiva and purchase data from the stock exchange. The comparison showed the factiva data after the decimal to be incorrect. Oh, and if there was a U.S. holiday, there would be no data gathered even if the Canadian exchange was still running. And sometimes whole periods of data would be missing with no explanation.

So, an alternative to factiva had to be found, at least for Canadian stock. Enter Canada Stockwatch. Designed primarily for the personal trader, it is a small site with limited data. But the price is pretty good (sometimes pennies) compared to paying hundreds of dollars directly from the stock exchanges or even more from factiva for poorer data. Data on Stockwatch is only daily; there is no weekly, monthly or yearly data. You gotta figger that out yerself. Oh, and they don’t usually keep data for predecessor companies. Once a symbol goes, the data pretty much goes too.

Many people have been using factiva for U.S. trading data; however, law firm libraries are slowly losing their right to use factiva as our contracts expire and we get moved over to Lexis Nexis for this information. I understand from my colleagues that the factiva data is available on . I think this is probably it–perhaps someone can confirm; this data is supplied by Sungard:

Historical Quotes

Historical Quotes is priced transactionally as follows: 30 cents per quote for each day a quote is retrieved. Downloading to a spreadsheet incurs a flat-rate fee of $2 per results set. Accessing a chart is $1 + $1 for each additional company or index added to your chart for comparison trending. You may format tables or charts for printing through your local browser at no additional charge.

Note: Discounts that may be part of your pricing plan or subscription are not reflected in this price. Contact your firm administrator or LexisNexis Representative for pricing questions.

30 cents per day of data? Sounds expensive to me if it’s not under a flat rate. The search is conducted by symbol (there is a symbol look-up if you only have the company name), dates are specified, and the time period needed (daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly) can be chosen. There doesn’t seem to be a place to choose the metrics included (high, low, close, volume, number of trades, specific trades listed individually). But again, if it’s Canadian data you are looking for, I don’t know how the quality will be. Perhaps someone would let me know if you have tried it out for this purpose.

The only other alternative I have been able to find is obtaining trade data directly from the stock exchanges. Limited data may be available free from their website, they may have subscription services, and I have had good luck in calling for data. But it is expensive and turnaround time is not fast. Not as fast as pulling up data yourself from the web. And for those of us who rarely need this data, and need it from various exchanges, it is not worth subscribing to an individual exchange.

Has anyone found any other alternatives? As I say, I long for the days when I had good ol’ clunky but reliable InfoGlobe.

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