Students dabble in stocks at the Philadelphia exchange

    Seniors from Olney Charter High School were introduced on the floor of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange to a trader with a gold earring and a purple shirt. He’s known as “The Count.”

    The first stock sale of the well-known brand Facebook has raised the profile of the initial public offering. And the students were there to learn more about the stock market.

    Alan Broadbent, a stock exchange tour guide and former trader, says technology has transformed the industry that new, young traders will enter.

    “When I was trading we traded five, ten, 15 different issues. Right now [The Count is] trading 250 different companies,” Broadbent said. “So he’s got to know a little bit about each of those companies, what’s going on.”

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    “There was no training, no college or anything,” Broadbent recalled of his own beginnings in the industry. “The way I knew numbers — when I was a little kid, I was a baseball fanatic, and I used to figure out their averages in my head.”

    Broadbent doesn’t simplify things too much, but these students catch on pretty quickly. Pointing to TV monitors overhead, Broadbent explains that this week, worries about European debt are sending the markets down.

    “In the last two weeks, the market’s gone down probably about 5 percent because there’s rumors that Greece could default in Europe — that’s pretty huge,” he explains. “You wouldn’t think that would affect us, but that has a pretty big effect on us.”

    “Oh, so it’s just a rumor?” says a student.

    “It’s a rumor, they haven’t done it yet,” answers Broadbent. He then offered a brief explanation of the politics threatening the financial stability of Europe.

    After the tour, the students had a chance to dip a toe in the market themselves. Broadbent leads a mock trading exercise with Apple stock. The group watches Apple’s stock scroll across the ticker at the bottom of a television tuned to the financial news. They opt to buy or sell batches of 100 shares.

    Taron Miller was cautious from the outset, watching the average stock price move up and down.

    “I’m trying to get an angle of it,” he says. “I want to sell — I’m trying to sell right now, I’m selling at 533.”

    Then trading closes.

    “I’m broke,” Miller concedes, but Marcus Davis is jubilant.

    “I just made bread!” says Davis, the day’s overall winner, who sold his shares at the last minute, at a profit, to Miller.

    Miller and Davis are 17. Next year, they can both open their own brokerage accounts.

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