Internet search provider Google on March 21 began offering a real-time financial information channel to compete with the likes of Yahoo Finance.
The feature, called Google Finance, is being offered to the U.S. audience now and will be offered in Europe in the next few days, according to a source.
A Google representative did not return an e-mail seeking comment.
The move falls in line with Googles strategy to continuously extend the type of online features it offers, and can be seen as part of its ongoing features war with leading online portals Yahoo and Microsofts MSN and its heir-apparent Live.com.
On its Web site, Google writes that Google Finance stands apart from competitors by allowing to search for information using a company stock ticker and compare the effect of a news story on a stocks performance, plus automatically group companies that are similar into a "related companies" category.
For now, Google Finance is being offered only to users in North America, but the company says on its Web site that its "actively investigating versions of Google Finance for countries outside of North America. However, we cant put an exact time frame on any international expansion."
Google Finance is of particular interest because rival Internet portals Yahoo, of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Microsofts MSN already have real-time financial information features.
Yahoo Finance ranks as the No. 1 online financial news and information destination, with nearly 12 million visitors in February. MSN Money is second, with 10.8 million.
Editors Note: This story was updated to reflect the fact that Google Finance has formally launched.