Datastream for Windows

Datastream Help Guide

The following instructions are intended only as guidelines to using Datastream. For more detailed help please consult the various handbooks kept behind the Ref6 Reference Desk. If further help is needed, please consult a reference librarian.

What is Datastream?
Datastream is an online database providing data on the financial markets of the world, economic time series from the IMF, OECD, and National Governments, company data, foreign stock and bond indices and more.
Organization of Files
Datastream for Windows is essentially a way of navigating through tremendous amounts of statistical data. All data are represented by codes, and similarly, different methods of retrieving and displaying these data are represented by program numbers. The most difficult aspect of learning to use Datastream is getting these codes and program numbers. With some practice, you will gradually become used to retrieving codes, and will probably use the same programs over and over again.
Selecting a Program

Using Datastream successfully involves two basic questions: "What type of request are you making?", (i.e. time series, report, graph, downloading and so on), and "What type of data are you requesting?", (i.e. equities, economic data, interest rates, exchange rates, financial statements and so on). Based on the answers to these two questions Datastream is able to present you with the program options most likely to get the data and the representation of the data that you need.

The basic procedure for program selection:
  • From the Type of Request (box on the left), select the type of information you are looking for by clicking the mouse.
  • From the Type of Data (box on the right), select the type of data you're interested in.
  • The bottom box, Programs Available, will display a description of each of the programs available for your criteria. Select one. The program number will appear in the program number box.

As you become more familiar with Datastream, you may simply enter in the program number if you know it.

Finding Codes

The huge amount of data in Datastream is only manageable through the use of codes. Understanding how codes can be found is extremely important when using Datastream. Codes may be found by using Code Lookup, or by using the Help screens.

A. Code Lookup

Code Lookup is a facility which allows you to find many types of Datastream codes quickly and easily. It is particularly useful when looking up equity codes. See section B below for advice on looking up other types of codes.

  • Click on the Code button, and the Datastream code window will appear.
  • Click on the arrow and select the category you are interested in on the drop down menu.
  • In the ind box, type in the name of item you need, and it will be selected.

B. HELP Screens for looking up codes

  • Although it is possible to use Code Lookup to find a wide range of Datastream codes, it is most useful for finding equity codes.
  • For finding codes for stock and bond indices, interest rates, exchange rates, commodity codes, futures contract codes and traded option codes, it is advisable to use HELP screens.

When using Code Lookup while in a program with the cursor on the expression box, you may double-click on the desired code to transfer it directly to the expression box. Type the appropriate command in the program number box. Some useful Help programs include:

HELP SI? Stock market indices codes
HELP DSIG? Industry Group or Sector Codes
HELP BOND? Bond Indices Codes
CODE (or use Code Lookup) Securities
HELP IR? Interest Rate Codes
HELP ER? Exchange Rate Codes
HELP CO? Commodity Codes
HELP FUT? Futures Contract Codes
HELP TOCD? Traded Options Codes

When you find the code(s) you need, write them down for use in programs.

C. Datatypes

To obtain data other than the default data, datatypes can be used. For example, the default for equity prices is the closing price. To get the high price you need to append the datatype to the equity code using parentheses. U:IBM(PH). Datatypes may be found in the program HELP DT? Please note that not all datatypes are available for all series.

D. Finding Economics Codes using Program 150Z

Simply enter 150Z in the program number box, and make your selections by choosing the numbers next to the options you want. When you get the code you need, write them down and put them into appropriate programs. This is the best way to access economic codes.

Commonly Used Programs
  • 150F-Displays economic indicators by country-No codes required.
  • 150G-Global international economic indicators comparison-No codes required.
  • 150A-Displays recent data and background information for economic series.
  • 150Z-Use this program to find economic codes.
  • 101A-Display price and fundamental data for up to 6 stocks or sectors.
  • 190A-Display profit and loss data for up to six companies or five sectors.
  • 190B-Display balance sheet data for up to six companies or five sectors.
  • 301V-Display up to 104 values for any series or expression. (TIME SERIES)
  • 301D-Display the exact values at two dates for any series or list.
  • 401A-Generate a chart for up to three series.
  • 900A-Download a list or series with up to 10 items (datatypes) for one date only.
  • 900B-Download a list of data for a single series over a period of time. (TIME SERIES)

Note: To find background information on stock or economic codes, simply enter the code into the program box and hit enter.


It is possible to obtain historic betas over time by using the following formula with either 900B or 301V. You must specify both a stock index and a stock.


To obtain 4 years of monthly betas for Pepsico, based on the Russell 2000, the formula would be:


For other time increments, "M" may be substituted with "Q" or "Y" for yearly or quarterly data.

Constituent Lists

To find the names of the individual companies comprising stock indices, use 900A. Enter the code prefaced with "L" e.g.LS&PCOMP, and enter "NAME" for "item type". This will provide you with the individual companies comprising the S&P 500 Index. You may also use 101D or 101B, prefacing the code with an "L", but 900A seems to work best. To determine which companies comprise industry groups, preface the industry group code with "L" and use the country code as the suffix. Example: LFDRETUK will produce the companies that make up the UK's food retailing sector. Again, use 900A and enter "NAME" for item type.

Currency Conversion

It is possible to convert from one currency to another with the tilde (~). The tilde connects the code with the desired currency code. Fore example: BASS~U$ expresses Bass share prices in US Dollars. U:PEP~DM expresses Pepsico share prices in German Marks.

All currency codes can be found in Help CUCD.

Euro Conversions

Datastream offers a variety of ways to deal with the change to the Euro. For the sake of simplicity, there is an automatic default to the Euro from the national currency for historical data. For accurate comparisons, various options are available, each with advantages and disadvantages. (Please see Introduction of the Euro, version 2 at the REF6 Desk for details). These currency conversion choices are:

  • automatic adjustment to Euro using the irrevocably fixed exchange rates
  • conversion to Euro via a common reference rate
  • conversion back to national currency
  • conversion via synthetic and proxy rates

There are four basic ways to download in Datastream. The method you choose will depend upon the type of data you are downloading, and what you plan to do with the data.

A. Capture to Plain Text

This method of downloading saves data in plain ASCII text format, readable by most word processors or text editors. Use this method if you are downloading simple tabular data or company reports. To do this:

  • Select CAPTURE TO PLAIN TEXT in the FILE menu.
  • In the new window, enter the name your file will be called, using the form a:\filename.txt to save to the A drive, and click OK.
  • Perform your search, pressing Enter to scroll through your data.
  • When all the data have been displayed (either use the "return" key or the "autopage" icon to scroll through data), or you wish to discontinue saving, click END CAPTURE TO PLAIN TEXT FILE.

B. Capture to Save

This method of downloading saves files in a form readable by Datastream. Use this method of downloading if you expect to use your data only for other Datastream programs.

  • Select CAPTURE TO SAVE FILE in the FILE menu.
  • In the new window, enter the name your save file will be called. Use the form a:\filename.dst to save to the A drive, and click OK.

C. Downloading Statistical Data

It is important to remember that you must be in a downloading program to download statistical data. The 900 Programs enable you to download statistical data in a format useable in software packages such as Excel and Lotus 1-2-3.

There are 3 programs which can be used to download data for use in spreadsheets: 900A, 900B, 900C. These programs can be reached by selecting the DOWNLOAD option as your TYPE OF REQUEST and then choosing the TYPE OF DATA you wish to download. (Alternatively, if you know the program you need, simply enter the program number). These programs retrieve the same data as other programs, but the difference is that these three programs will return the data, not in tabular form, but as single lines of data separated only by commas. To read the data, you must use a spreadsheet or database program.

To do this:
  • In the new window, choose to save data as the filetype CSV and name your file using the form a:\filename.csv to save to drive A. Click OK.
  • Enter the parameters for your search into program 900A, 900B, or 900C. Press Enter to execute your search and continue pressing Enter until you have scrolled through all your data. (When you've scrolled through all the search results, the program menu screen will return.)
  • When all the data have been displayed, or you wish to stop saving, click END DATA CHANNEL/FUNDLINE in the FILE menu.

D. Downloading Graphics

Important: You must be in a graphics program (401s) to download graphics.

  • Select a graphics program and execute your search.
  • Click on the File key, and pull down the menu. Select Write to Windows Metafile.
  • Name your file using the form a:\filename.wmf to save to drive A.
  • You may then bring up the documents using Excel, or another software program that prints graphics. (Note: When using Excel, simply select Insert, and then Pictures.)

Partially Addapted from Bobray Bordelon's Datastream Help page at

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