Wednesday 11 September 2013

What's Happened to Yahoo Finance? And Is There an Alternative?

As private investors we all rely on a couple of favourite financial websites to keep us updated on prices and developments in the markets. And, of course, we like to get this information for-free.

In particular, I previously used Yahoo Finance to 'scrape' share prices, to keep my portfolio spreadsheet up-to-date, at the click of a laptop button.

That has worked fine for a few years but, all of a sudden, in September (2013), it all seemed to go pear-shaped. Perhaps another indication that all is not peachy at Yahoo - hot on the heels of the bungled Yahoo Mail update.

What's Gone Wrong?

Back to the Yahoo Finance share price data. To get into details: the problem is that the figures for the 'latest' prices - the 'bid' and 'offer' prices - don't seem to be available consistently any more. More often than not the indication 'N/A' appears, throwing my spreadsheet into confusion. And where they are available, the spread - the difference between bid and offer - often doesn't look right.

Have a look at the data for Braemar Shipping, for example: no current price data at all!

Effectively, I am down to using only the closing prices for the previous trading day - which is OK, but it means that I won't know about any share price movements during the day, which might be important if rapid reaction is needed.

Is there an alternative?

The usual suspects unfortunately have websites (lovely as they are) that don't permit 'price scraping':

Fortunately I have found one site with 'scrapable' current prices: ADVFN. However this doesn't seem to give me the closing price from the previous day, so it looks like I'll have to obtain market data from two sources for each shareholding.

Having said all that, I am surviving on my Google Finance 'My Portfolio' page, which gives me a nifty summary of the latest prices for everything in my portfolio: really nice - but not 'scrapable'.

Ho-hum - reformatting my spreadsheet is probably something to another day (preferably on a rainy morning while I'm lying in bed). Until then - does anyone have a better solution for updating my portfolio spreadsheet?

Update 12/9/13: Obviously Yahoo is closely watching this blog as they seem to have taken immediate action to fix the problem!

I had no idea it was so influential... :-)

Update 16/9/10: The problem is still occurring on some of my share prices. It is amazing that it is taking Yahoo weeks to a) recognise that there is a  problem and b) fix it comprehensively. The bottom line is - be careful will Yahoo price quotes!

I am not a financial adviser and the information provided does not constitute financial advice. You should always do your own research on top of what you learn here to ensure that it's right for your specific circumstances.


  1. Try looking at this:

    I use a bastardised version of the OpenOffice macro given and it's still working fine with the Yahoo feed. The data is a bit wobbly from time to time, but I've never had much of a problem with the basic market prices.

    I think the sainted Marissa is spending too much time on acquiring kiddie-friendly photo-sharing apps to care about Yahoo's very useful stock API!

  2. Google finance may not allow scraping but it does integrate with google docs:

    Probably not worth the time to migrate your existing spreadsheets mind.

  3. Not sure how people scrape information usually, but heard of the concept. You could write a bit of VBA code and import information from Digital Look. I do this for my shares to pick up yields, dividend cover etc.

    Happy to provide more info if interested.

    1. 'Scraping' uses a web data function built-in to Excel (as I have described in a previous linked post) - but your Virtual Basic option sounds interesting!

  4. Sorry never noticed the link. Now read and basically this is what my VBA does. It'll scrape the information for my share and dump it into a sheet in Excel. Then it finds the values I'm interested in and puts them in a table. It the moves to the next share I have in my list and repeats until all shares are done.

    Will be happy to send you a spreadsheet that just picks up the prices. It's fairly basic, but works fine for me.

  5. Many thanks indeed for the link to your 'scrape a share'article; you have made my life a whole lot easier! I now use III My Portfolio to scrape share and UT prices.

  6. I'm using the smf addin in Excel that links to the Yahoo Finance share price data

  7. e.g.

    All work well in my bespoke scraper on a basket of the usual 30 odd stocks - The German site is also really handy for analysis that would not be permitted in the UK.

    I grab the underlying HTML using a Pascal program on a Windows PC and analyse the text. This gets folded into my portfolio tracker which also gives yields (not just capital deltas) and trends.

    It takes a little TLC to keep it working as daft web site programmers tweak the pages around and forget the difference between p and P - I would gladly pay real money for a reliable "ticker" for DIY use - there has got to be a market here!

  8. Would the GoogleFinance functions inside the Google Docs spreadsheets do what you are looking for? Or am I misunderstanding what you want?

  9. If we use an alternative one means it is not worth as like yahoo finance. For me yahoo finance is a comfortable one.

    1. It's OK, with a little tweaking - but not as easy to 'scrape' price data as before.

  10. Yahoo finance API is not available anymore. I have moved to MarketXLS after this change, much more reliable data.ubanker