What is a RIC?

Reuters Instrument Codes (RICs) are proprietary identifiers for every security, instrument or service distributed across Thomson Reuters real-time network and therefore captured in Tick History.

RICs have well defined structures that differ according to the instrument they identify. A RIC for a common share has a different structure to that for an option, or warrant, which is different again from that for a bond issue, or a futures contract, or a foreign exchange transaction. Differences are due to the characteristics of the instruments concerned. Instruments like options, bonds and futures all have maturity dates, which must be included in their respective RICs in order to uniquely identify each security. Strike prices, coupon rates and contract term can be other relevant attributes. None of these are required for the RIC of a common share.

The simplest RICs are those for a common share traded on organised, regulated exchange. Their structure is generally:

“Exchange Ticker code” + “.” + “Exchange Identifier Code”

The period, “.”, in this RIC is a delimiter separating the Ticker and Exchange Identifier codes. Other delimiters are also used in RICs. Some of these are mentioned briefly below.

An example of a common share RIC is “BHP.AX”. “BHP” is the ticker code for the common shares of BHP Billiton Limited, listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). “.” is the delimiter for an equity instrument and “AX” is Thomson Reuters’ code for the ASX. Another example is “VOD.L”. This refers to Vodafone Group, whose ticker is “VOD”, listed on the London Stock Exchange, with exchange identifier “L”. A final example is “IBM.N” for International Business Machines Corporation, with ticker “IBM”, listed on the NYSE, whose exchange identifier is “N”. Once you know a company’s ticker code, or root code, you only need the exchange identifier to build the appropriate RIC for its common shares.

Exchange identifiers can all be found in TRTH’s Speedguide, on pages EXCHID02 through to EXCHID17. An index for each of these appears on page EXCHID01 (see our separate entry, Speedguide Explained, for more information on the Speedguide and how to use it). A recent snapshot of exchange identifiers on a particular date can be seen here Tick History – Exchange Identifiers

Consolidation RICs are one exception to the previous rule for equity RICs. Consolidation RICs identify trades and quotes, which are consolidated across several North American Exchanges to deliver the best quotes available. Consolidation RICs contain no equity delimiter or exchange identifier (e.g. “IBM” is the consolidation RIC for IBM) and will be described in a separate Dinkum Data entry.

RIC definitions for other instrument types are also described elsewhere in Dinkum Data. RICs for futures are explained here, Tick History / Futures / Instrument Codes, RICs for options on futures are here, Tick History / Options on Futures / Instrument Codes, and for foreign exchange transactions at Tick History / Foreign Exchange / Instrument Codes.

The Speedguide is another useful resource. Page RULES1 is an index of RIC definitions for futures (RULES2 and RULES5), options (RULES2 and RULES7), options on futures (RULES2 and RULES 5), continuation futures (RULES2 and RULES6), identifiers for exchanges trading futures and options (RULES 3 and RULES 4), plus more.

The previous references are recommended for detailed descriptions of RIC structures applicable to non-equity instruments. However, brief descriptions of several RIC structures follow to illustrate the variety of instruments they can represent. It is not an exhaustive list of those structures.

Options on Equity

Ticker Code + Expiration Month Code + Expiration Day + Expiration Year Code + Strike Price + “.” + Exchange Identifier Code

Examples

BHP3000A1.AX is a call option on BHP common shares expiring at the end of January 2011 with a strike price of 3000 cents, traded on the ASX. BHP3000M1.AX is the put option with the same expiry and strike price. VOD160N1.L is a put option on VOD common shares with a strike price of 160 pence, expiring in February 2011 and trading on the Euronext LIFFE exchange. VOD160F2.L is a call option on the same exchange with strike price of 160 pence expiring in June 2012. IBML311012500.U is a call option on IBM expiring in December 31 2010 with a strike price of 12500 cents and IBMX311012500.U is the corresponding put option. Prices for both IBM options are sourced from the Options Reporting Authority (OPRA).

Futures

Root Code + Delivery Month Code + Expiry Year Code

Examples

YAPF1 corresponds to a futures contract on the ASX/S&P 200 index that expires in January 2011. YAP” is the root code, “F” the delivery month code and “1” the delivery year code. Similarly, SPH1 is a futures contract on the S&P 500 index expiring in March 2011 (“SP” + “H” + “1”); CIFG1 is a futures on the Chinese CSI 300 expiring in February 2011 (“CIF” + “G” + “1”); and FTSEBF1 is a futures on the FTSE/ATHEX-CSE Greek Banking index with January 2011 expiry (FTSEB” + “F” + “1”)

Options on Futures

Root Code + Strike Price + Expiry Month Code + Delivery Year Code

Examples

GC190H1 is a call option with a strike price of $US190 expiring in July on a futures contract for 100 troy oz of gold that matures in August 2011 (“GC” + “190” + “H” + “1”). GCQ1 is the RIC for that underlying gold futures (“GC” + “Q” + “1” using the previous definition for RIC futures). Similarly, GC350X6 is a put option with strike price $US350, expiring in November on a futures contract for 100 troy oz of gold that matures in December 2016 (“GC” + “ 350” + “X” + “6”). The underlying gold futures RIC is GCZ6.

Foreign Exchange

Spot rates: ISO Country Code + “=”

Examples

EUR= or AUD= the default base currency is usually USD and these RICs refer to exchange rates for Euros per US dollar and Australian dollars per US dollar.

Cross rates: ISO Country Code base currency + ISO Country Code + “=”

Examples

EURAUD= gives the number of AUD per one EUR; GBPCHF= provides the number of Swiss francs per one pound stirling.

Forward rates: ISO Country Code + Delivery Period Code + “=”

Examples

GBP2M= is a contract to exchange GBP for USD in 2 months.

As you can see from the previous examples, RICs are enormously versatile, so much so in fact that they accommodate all the instruments available in TRTH. They can become quite complex and although it is possible to construct RICs for yourself once you understand their structure, it is often much easier to use another feature of RICs called a chain. Entire families of RICs can be easily identified and filtered via RIC chains, which are extremely powerful and will be the subject of their own Dinkum Data entry.