Whether you’re an algorithmic investor looking to create a systematic edge for yourself or a provider of financial technology platforms, APIs are necessary to create the financial systems you utilize.
What is a Finance API?
A simple way to grasp this concept would be to imagine you are looking at a flowing river that stretches as long as you can see.
You can see the river, you can see the water flowing in the river, but you can’t see where the water is coming from. There must be a lake or an ocean that is constantly providing water to the river, but not one that is within your sight.
That lake or ocean is the proverbial API!
Financial APIs are the back-end data that go into any financial platform that you aren’t able to see when you’re on the website or platform.
Data such as the real-time prices of stocks constantly flashing a new number or the newsfeed that instantly posts a press release at 8 a.m. on the dot are both examples of financial tools you use that are provided via API.
Types of Finance APIs
Here are a few financial data sets that you might be surprised to know are all integrated into platforms via API:
- Earnings: Estimated and actual earnings per share, estimated and actual revenue, earnings-related news headlines
- Analyst ratings: Analyst upgrades and downgrades with price target changes
- Dividends: All dividend distribution announcements with ex-dividend dates
- Economics: Coverage of the largest market-driving economic news headlines
- Stock splits: When a company announces a split and how large the split will be
- IPOs: The price, capital raised and date for all upcoming and historical initial public offerings
What to Look for in a Finance API
Many financial data sets have become such a commodity now (pun intended) that most people don’t think twice about how they get them or where these pieces come from.
However, before you pay that shady-looking guy in the alleyway for a cheap API, you might want to check for these important factors.
A good data partner will always give at least some wiggle room for you. Since APIs are high-margin products, every data provider can afford to budge at least a little to have your business. That said, lowballing your vendors could lead to them not doing business with you, so finding a healthy balance is a key to getting a good API and saving a few bucks while you’re at it.
Some data vendors add a latency (or delay) to their API data to maintain a competitive edge on their financial products. This delay can be anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. If you don’t ask, many data vendors might sneak this little piece of information past you, so always make sure to ask about this before buying any API!
API Calls Allowed per Minute
Another way data vendors may try to maintain a competitive edge is by limiting the amount of API calls a buyer is allowed to do per minute.
This is essentially the frequency of how often you can update or request for new information. So, if you had a “live” stock quote that was only allowed to do 1 API call per minute, the quote would only update every minute. Knowing how often you can make an API call is another key to knowing how fast the data will end up showing on your platform.
Types Available (TCP, Rest API and FTP)
There are a few different types of data distributors that you may want to consider based on what you are looking for. The standard API is a rest API. This is the type where you need to make an API call to get real-time data (the fastest APIs typically offer 1 call per second).
Looking for something even faster in sub-second speeds? You’ll need to buy TCP data. TCP does not require that the user makes a request (like an API call) in order to get the data. It pushes the data out to you as close to instantaneously as possible.
On the other hand, if you don’t require fast data for the data set you’re looking for, then an FTP may be the route for you. FTPs typically provide end-of-day data.
Examples of this could be fundamental data like P/E, P/S, EV/EBITDA, etc. Financial data pieces like this don’t typically need to be updated throughout, so having this by the end of the day is more than sufficient. Buying FTP can be much cheaper, too, for this reason.
Our Top Picks for the Best Finance APIs
Now that we have a good understanding of what an API is and what it’s used for, it’s time to go over our top picks for the best financial APIs out there!
Best for Newsfeeds
The following APIs are known for having amazing news coverage that allows you to make the best trades and investments.
Benzinga’s newsfeed is known for providing extensive market coverage in a timely speed. The API has no latency, the newsfeed is available via rest API, FTP, TCP, and it allows for a 1 API call per second. The website includes easy-to-use API documents as well.
Xignite is another well-known financial API provider. Its news feed has coverage of U.S. equities (NASDAQ, NYSE, NYSE MKT). One downside to this newsfeed API is that it’s delayed a few minutes, which can be the determining factor for most traders who are looking to receive news as fast as possible.
However, positives include coverage of more than 75 popular publications and ease of embedding into spreadsheets, websites and mobile applications.
You can see a small sample of Stocknewsapi.com data within a widget embedded on the website. On top of that, it includes some unique data fields with news headlines such as sentiment, image and even type (video or text).
The largest downside to this API is that it aggregates content from external news providers and you can only get full-length articles (which have much lower coverage and delayed headlines by a matter of hours).
Best for Analyst Ratings
If you’re looking for analyst ratings, these finance APIs will keep you in the know.
When it comes to analyst ratings, TipRanks is the first name to come to many people’s minds, and for good reason. TipRanks’ Daily Analyst Ratings API provides comprehensive coverage on analyst actions, firms, price target changes, specific analyst names, contact information and a proprietary analyst star rating.
It allows for financial publishers to integrate an easy-to-consume widget on the website.
Benzinga’s analyst ratings calendar API provides the basics of what every trader needs when it comes to analyst actions at an affordable, flexible price. The API includes the analyst name, action, price target change and the firm. For most financial publishers and platforms, this amount of coverage is perfect.
Barcharts.com is the simplest coverage available. For platform providers who are just looking for standard coverage of stocks with a strong buy, moderate buy, hold, moderate sell or strong sell rating, this is your API. It provides the basic info that traders look for without extra data fields or noisy headlines.
Best for Earnings
API coverage isn’t complete without a comprehensive earnings report. Check out these APIs for the most up-to-date information on earnings.
While Earningscalendar.net is not excessively intricate, it ranks as our “best for earnings” API due to its good coverage and extremely affordable and transparent price. In this case, simplicity, affordability and transparency do prevail. Its earnings dates are indexed from multiple sources to ensure data quality. The Premium API cost $50 per month.
2. Xignite Earnings
XIgnite’s earnings calendar API comes with 89-day forward-looking coverage on all earnings. It includes data columns such as the timing of earnings release, forecasted and confirmed dates, shareholder/board meeting dates and more. Pricing for XIgnite is more expensive, as expected, which is expected for its more advanced earnings calendar that goes above basic coverage. Its stock universe includes over 6,300 U.S. and global companies.
Benzinga’s earnings API is a quality data piece, with its earnings coverage on all U.S. equities and inclusion of quality analyst estimates to compare to actual earnings. Pricing does include flexibility, but it can be more expensive than other options. That said, the data quality and coverage exceed the competition.
Multiple data accuracy tests and relevant consensus analyst estimate data fields mean that this API is known for its data quality.
Choose the Best Finance API
Looking for API provider that follows a few key metrics like price, flexibility, latency, API calls allowed per minute, types available and data quality?
Consider this: If you buy multiple APIs from a single vendor, there is typically more price flexibility if they offer package data deals. However, some vendors, such as TipRanks, do specialize in providing one quality data API based on what the company focuses on.