Options and Futures

Delta and such.... CBOE and CME for futures, examples, pictures

In finance, an option is a derivative financial instrument that specifies a contract between two parties for a future transaction on an asset at a reference price. The buyer of the option gains the right, but not the obligation, to engage in that transaction, while the seller incurs the corresponding obligation to fulfill the transaction. The price of an option derives from the difference between the reference price and the value of the underlying asset (commonly a stock, a bond, a currency or a futures contract) plus a premium based on the time remaining until the expiration of the option. Other types of options exist, and options can in principle be created for any type of valuable asset.

An option which conveys the right to buy something is called a call; an option which conveys the right to sell is called a put. The reference price at which the underlying may be traded is called the strike price or exercise price. The process of activating an option and thereby trading the underlying at the agreed-upon price is referred to as exercising it. Most options have an expiration date. If the option is not exercised by the expiration date, it becomes void and worthless.

In return for granting the option, called writing the option, the originator of the option collects a payment, the premium, from the buyer. The writer of an option must make good on delivering (or receiving) the underlying asset or its cash equivalent, if the option is exercised.

An option can usually be sold by its original buyer to another party. Many options are created in standardized form and traded on an anonymous options exchange among the general public, while other over-the-counter options are customized ad hoc to the desires of the buyer, usually by an investment bank.[1][2]

The theoretical value of an option is evaluated according to any of several mathematical models. These models, which are developed by quantitative analysts, attempt to predict how the value of an option changes in response to changing conditions. For example how the price changes with respect to changes in time to expiration or how an increase in volatility would have an impact on the value. Hence, the risks associated with granting, owning, or trading options may be quantified and managed with a greater degree of precision, perhaps, than with some other investments. Exchange-traded options form an important class of options which have standardized contract features and trade on public exchanges, facilitating trading among independent parties. Over-the-counter options are traded between private parties, often well-capitalized institutions that have negotiated separate trading and clearing arrangements with each other.

[edit] Contract specificationsEvery financial option is a contract between the two counterparties with the terms of the option specified in a term sheet. Option contracts may be quite complicated; however, at minimum, they usually contain the following specifications:[3]

whether the option holder has the right to buy (a call option) or the right to sell (a put option)
the quantity and class of the underlying asset(s) (e.g., 100 shares of XYZ Co. B stock)
the strike price, also known as the exercise price, which is the price at which the underlying transaction will occur upon exercise
the expiration date, or expiry, which is the last date the option can be exercised
the settlement terms, for instance whether the writer must deliver the actual asset on exercise, or may simply tender the equivalent cash amount
the terms by which the option is quoted in the market to convert the quoted price into the actual premium – the total amount paid by the holder to the writer of the option.
[edit] TypesThe Options can be classified into following types:

[edit] Exchange-traded optionsExchange-traded options (also called "listed options") are a class of exchange-traded derivatives. Exchange traded options have standardized contracts, and are settled through a clearing house with fulfillment guaranteed by the credit of the exchange. Since the contracts are standardized, accurate pricing models are often available. Exchange-traded options include:[4][5]
stock options,
commodity options,
bond options and other interest rate options
stock market index options or, simply, index options and
options on futures contracts
callable bull/bear contract
[edit] Over-the-counterOver-the-counter options (OTC options, also called "dealer options") are traded between two private parties, and are not listed on an exchange. The terms of an OTC option are unrestricted and may be individually tailored to meet any business need. In general, at least one of the counterparties to an OTC option is a well-capitalized institution. Option types commonly traded over the counter include:
1.interest rate options
2.currency cross rate options, and
3.options on swaps or swaptions.
[edit] Other option typesAnother important class of options, particularly in the U.S., are employee stock options, which are awarded by a company to their employees as a form of incentive compensation. Other types of options exist in many financial contracts, for example real estate options are often used to assemble large parcels of land, and prepayment options are usually included in mortgage loans. However, many of the valuation and risk management principles apply across all financial options.

The basic trades of traded stock options (American style)These trades are described from the point of view of a speculator. If they are combined with other positions, they can also be used in hedging. An option contract in US markets usually represents 100 shares of the underlying security.[17]

Long call

Payoff from buying a call.A trader who believes that a stock's price will increase might buy the right to purchase the stock (a call option) rather than just purchase the stock itself. He would have no obligation to buy the stock, only the right to do so until the expiration date. If the stock price at expiration is above the exercise price by more than the premium (price) paid, he will profit. If the stock price at expiration is lower than the exercise price, he will let the call contract expire worthless, and only lose the amount of the premium. A trader might buy the option instead of shares, because for the same amount of money, he can control (leverage) a much larger number of shares.

Long put

Payoff from buying a put.A trader who believes that a stock's price will decrease can buy the right to sell the stock at a fixed price (a put option). He will be under no obligation to sell the stock, but has the right to do so until the expiration date. If the stock price at expiration is below the exercise price by more than the premium paid, he will profit. If the stock price at expiration is above the exercise price, he will let the put contract expire worthless and only lose the premium paid.

Short call

Payoff from writing a call.A trader who believes that a stock price will decrease, can sell the stock short or instead sell, or "write," a call. The trader selling a call has an obligation to sell the stock to the call buyer at the buyer's option. If the stock price decreases, the short call position will make a profit in the amount of the premium. If the stock price increases over the exercise price by more than the amount of the premium, the short will lose money, with the potential loss unlimited.

Short put

Payoff from writing a put trader who believes that a stock price will increase can buy the stock or instead sell, or "write", a put. The trader selling a put has an obligation to buy the stock from the put buyer at the put buyer's option. If the stock price at expiration is above the exercise price, the short put position will make a profit in the amount of the premium. If the stock price at expiration is below the exercise price by more than the amount of the premium, the trader will lose money, with the potential loss being up to the full value of the stock. A benchmark index for the performance of a cash-secured short put option position is the CBOE S&P 500 PutWrite Index (ticker PUT).

[edit] Option strategiesMain article: Option strategies

Payoffs from buying a butterfly spread.
Payoffs from selling a straddle.
Payoffs from a covered call.Combining any of the four basic kinds of option trades (possibly with different exercise prices and maturities) and the two basic kinds of stock trades (long and short) allows a variety of options strategies. Simple strategies usually combine only a few trades, while more complicated strategies can combine several.

Strategies are often used to engineer a particular risk profile to movements in the underlying security. For example, buying a butterfly spread (long one X1 call, short two X2 calls, and long one X3 call) allows a trader to profit if the stock price on the expiration date is near the middle exercise price, X2, and does not expose the trader to a large loss.

An Iron condor is a strategy that is similar to a butterfly spread, but with different strikes for the short options – offering a larger likelihood of profit but with a lower net credit compared to the butterfly spread.

Selling a straddle (selling both a put and a call at the same exercise price) would give a trader a greater profit than a butterfly if the final stock price is near the exercise price, but might result in a large loss.

Similar to the straddle is the strangle which is also constructed by a call and a put, but whose strikes are different, reducing the net debit of the trade, but also reducing the risk of loss in the trade.

One well-known strategy is the covered call, in which a trader buys a stock (or holds a previously-purchased long stock position), and sells a call. If the stock price rises above the exercise price, the call will be exercised and the trader will get a fixed profit. If the stock price falls, the call will not be exercised, and any loss incurred to the trader will be partially offset by the premium received from selling the call. Overall, the payoffs match the payoffs from selling a put. This relationship is known as put-call parity and offers insights for financial theory. A benchmark index for the performance of a buy-write strategy is the CBOE S&P 500 BuyWrite Index (ticker symbol BXM).

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