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Step 1 – Choose a common stock that has experienced considerable price fluctuations in the past few years. Here are several examples (but many others): IBM, J.P. Morgan Chase, AT&T,, Oxford Health Care, and Apple Computer. Find the symbol for the stock (for example, J.P. Morgan Chase is JPM) and the exchange on which it is traded (JPM is traded on the NYSE).

Step 2 – Find the historical ups and downs of your chosen stock going back no more than ten years. You can find this information at several well-known sites on the web. Do a little research to find these sites.

Step 3 – Find a period of several months or even a year when there have been major price fluctuations in the stock—research what happened during that time period that might have contributed to the fluctuation. A place to begin is with the Wall Street Journal or on the business pages of a national newspaper, such as the New York Times or the Washington Post. Perhaps a “this day in history” web page would provide some information.

Step 4 – Write a short analysis that links changes in stock price to internal and external factors. These factors are detailed in this Module’s Exploration Topic in Content. As you analyze the data, it is sometimes difficult to know why a stock price fluctuates.

Follow-Up Questions (please respond to these as well):

Do you see any similarities in the movement of the various stocks during the same period? For example, did the stocks move up or down at about the same time? If so, do you think the stocks were affected by the same factors? Explain your thinking.

Based on your analysis, did internal or external factors have the greater impact on stock price? Which factors had the more long-lasting effect? Which factors had the shorter effect?

Why do you think it is so hard to predict changes in stock price on a day-to-day basis?


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