Stock Charting Software Comparison

Written by donald harder
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Stock Charting Software Comparison
Average investors now have at their fingertips the same information professional money managers do. (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

It hasn't been that long since investors were forced to rely on the morning newspaper to see how their portfolio performed in the market the day before. Today, investors can go online and see in real time the same information the banks and institutional traders see. In addition, computer technology has created an explosion of ways to repackage that data so investors can see their investment's performances charted in many useful ways.

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Investools Prophet Charts

<p>Investools.com provides a premium Java-based stock chart system, called ProphetCharts, that can be accessed using most Internet browsers. There is no software to download. ProphetCharts provides real-time stock price data for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Charts are dynamic and allow for multiple time frame views -- by the minute, hour, day, week and even month. Users can draw trend lines and make notations on the charts and they can import watch lists of stocks. Finally, ProphetCharts offers a large number of technical analysis studies that can be used for in-depth research.

StockCharts

<p>StockCharts.com most closely compares to ProphetCharts. In addition to premium charts, which offer real-time data, drawing capabilities and an equally large number of technical studies, StockCharts offers a limited free version that anyone can use. Free charts limit the number of available technical studies, data is delayed 20 minutes and users cannot use drawing tools.

MetaStock

Users can access the ProphetCharts and StockCharts premium versions by paying a monthly access fee. MetaStock is a software program that must be purchased and loaded onto your computer. There are no monthly fees, but users are required to use a separate data vendor -- most charge monthly fees. MetaStock, too, offers a wide variety of technical studies, drawing capabilities and other similar features. However, it has a significantly higher learning curve than both StockCharts and ProphetCharts, so it may not be the best choice for beginners.

BigCharts

<p>BigCharts.com is s free stock chart provider. It can be accessed from most browsers and requires no software downloads. Like the free version of StockCharts, data is provided with a 20-minute delay. The number of technical studies and other features are limited compared to premium chart services, but because it is free and relatively easy to use, it may be the best choice for casual investors who do not need a great deal of flexibility and speed from their charting software.

Others

There is a large list of other free chart services and software available online. A couple of the more popular ones can be found on Google Finance and Yahoo! Finance. The charts these sites provide are very limited in features and capabilities, which fall far short of their free competitor BigCharts.

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