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I’ll have an ‘M’ please, Bob

Not only does Wall Street have a language all its own, it’s got a unique way of dealing with the alphabet. You’re probably aware that the New York Stock Exchange uses “ticker symbols” to identify listed companies.

You see them whizzing past on electronic noticeboards – XON +1 3/8 IBM – 1/4 GM +2 – to identify share price movements in Exxon, Big Blue and General Motors.

The most coveted NYSE ticker symbols are the single-letter ones – F for Ford, K for the breakfast cereal folks, and X for US Steel.

So far, all but four letters of the alphabet have been allocated. Still without a company are the letters Q and V. More interestingly, letters M and I have yet to find a home: the NYSE is said to be holding out for the day when it can award these prestigious ticker symbols to the two US companies that the NYSE is desperate to poach from rival exchange Nasdaq.

So when will Microsoft (Nasdaq symbol MSFT) and Intel (INTC) decide to rub shoulders with Gillette (G) and AT&T (T)? Don’t hold your breath.

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