Traders Toolbox: Learning Options Part 4 of 4

In real estate, they say that the three most important things are location, location, and location. In options, the three most important things are volatility, volatility, and volatility. Often neglected by option rookies, volatility is the cornerstone of an option professional's trading strategy.

In its simplest form, expressed as the annualized percentage of the standard deviation, volatility measures how far a contract can be expected to swing from a mean price. A contract trading at 50 would have a volatility of 10% if it traded between 45 and 55 over a given period of time.

Historical volatility is just that: the volatility calculated (using closing prices) over a given period – 20 days, 20 weeks, one year, etc. Implied volatility is the volatility using current market prices. For example, using four primary option pricing inputs – futures price, settlement price, time until expiration and volatility – would result in a theoretical price.

By plugging in the current option price in place of the theoretical price and working backward, it would be possible to determine the volatility the current market is implying. (It is not mathematically possible to work backward and solve for implied volatility using an equation like the Black-Scholes model, but an approximation can be derived.)

Options on quick-moving, highly volatility contracts will demand a higher premium because of the increased possibility of such options being in-the-money. For example, an out-of-the-money option on a slow, non-volatile contract will have a lower premium than a comparable option on a volatile contact because there is a greater chance the volatile contract will shirt in price enough to put the currently out-of-the-money option in-the-money.

Astute options traders look at volatility figures to evaluate the potential of a trade, buying or selling options when volatility is exceptionally high or low. If a market is trading at historically low volatility levels, options premiums could be expected to rise as market volatility increases, presenting a buy opportunity. The revers is true for high volatility situations.

We hope that this short lesson series was helpful, and that you learned a little more about trading options!

The MarketClub Team

Traders Toolbox: Learning Options Part 1 of 4

There are four components to an options price: underlying contract price, intrinsic value ( determined by strike price), time value (time remaining until expiration) and volatility. (A fifth element, interest rates, also can affect option prices, but for our purposes is unimportant.)

Intrinsic value refers to the amount an option is in-the-money. For example, with Eurodollar futures at 95.55, a 95.00 call has an intrinsic value of .55. The more an option is in the money, the greater its intrinsic value. At-the-money and out-of-the-money options have no intrinsic value.

Options are referred to as "wasting" assets because their value decreases over time until it reaches zero at expiration, a process called time decay. Time value refers to the part of an option's price that reflects the time left until expiration. The more distance an option's expiration date, the greater the premium because of the uncertainty of projecting prices further into the future.

Considering two equivalent call options. Let's say for example, that with May corn futures at 232 1/4, July corn futures at 236 1/4 and 10 days left until May corn options expire, a May 230 call might cost 2 3/8 while a July 234 call costs 6 1/2, even though they are equally in-the-money.

Volatility, perhaps the most important and most widely ignored aspect of options, refers tot he range and rate of price movement of the underlying contract. The "choppier" the market, the higher the price that will be paid for this unstability in the form of higher option premiums.

Volatility usually is expressed as a percentage, and is comparable to the standard deviation of a contract. Higher volatility means higher premiums. Lower volatility means lower premiums. A trader familiar with the volatility history of a contract can gauge whether volatility at a given time is relatively high or low, and can profit from fluctuations in volatility that will in turn increase or decrease option premium.

The Black-Scholes price model, first introduced by Fischer Black and Myron Scholes in 1973, is the most popular theoretical options pricing model largely because it was the first relatively straightforward arithmetic method for determining a fair value for options.

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow, so stay tuned!

The MarketClub Team

A New Look At Exit Strategies

With the level of volatility in today’s markets, many of us may be questioning our confidence regarding our personal exit strategies. Allow trading expert and professional, Chuck Le Beau, to show you how to avoid big losses and to better understand the setup of a sound exit strategy.

Discover what has aided this trader’s success for years…

The INO TV Team

Poll: And the hits just keep on coming!

Between natural disasters, shutdowns, and rallies, there is no argument that we are facing some MAJOR volatility in the markets right now. Of course, most of us would like to keep our emotions out of our trading, but lately that seems impossible.

How successful have you been with keeping your emotions out of your trading (in the last month)?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

We value your opinion and would love to hear how you are coping with the current volatility, so be sure to share in our comments section.

The MarketClub Team

The Giant Flaw In Correlation Trading (UPDATE)

Last week Jason Fielder gave us some general insight on correlation trading, but today he pulls out ALL the stops and dives deep into a proven method for successful correlation trading! Jason said the only way he would teach this much is if I mentioned his free webinar that focuses on correlation trading! (Please see Ed note below)

Ed Note: The webinar has passed and Jason is now making live his Correlation Code, please check it out.


I have some unfortunate news for you Trader's Blog readers, correlation trading does have one GIANT FLAW.

While correlations will tell you that a move is about to occur, correlation alone doesn’t tell you which pair is moving or the direction it will be moving in.

In other words, you know you need to put on a trade, but you don’t know which pair to trade or whether you need to buy or sell short. This massive limitation in correlation trading has stifled traders for years, which is why so few traders use correlations despite its obvious benefits.

Of the handful of traders who did trade with correlations, most just used it as a filter to increase the accuracy of an already-profitable system.

Well I for one wasn’t willing to stop there...

Continue reading "The Giant Flaw In Correlation Trading (UPDATE)"