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May 2, 2014

Understanding Settlement

One topic that is probably not discussed enough when learning to trade options is that of the various settlement issues. Many option traders limit their universe of option trading to two broad categories of underlyings. One group consists of individual equities and the similar group of exchange traded funds (ETFs). The other group is composed of a multitude of broad based index products. These two groups are not entirely mutually exclusive since a number of very similar products exist in both categories, for example the broad based SPX index and its corresponding ETF, the SPY.

The first category, the individual equities and ETFs, trade until the close of market on the third Friday of each month for the monthly series contracts. These days there are more and more ETFs and equities that also have weekly settlements too. These contracts are of American type and as such can be exercised by the owner of the contracts for any reason whatsoever at any time until their expiration. If the contract is in-the-money at expiration by just one cent, clearing firms will also exercise these automatically for the owners unless specifically instructed not to do so in many cases. The settlement price against which these decisions are made is the price of the underlying at the close of the life of the option contract.

When this first group we are discussing settles, it is by the act of buying or selling shares of the underlying equity/ETF at the particular strike price. As such, the trader owning a long call will acquire a long position in the underlying and the owner of a put a short position. Conversely, the trader short these options will incur the offsetting action in his account. Obviously, existing additional positions in the equity/ETF itself may result in different final net positions.

The second category, the broad based index underlyings, are also termed “cash settled index options”. This category would include a number of indices, for example RUT and SPX. As the name implies, these series settle by movement of cash into and out of the trader’s account. The last day to trade these options is the Thursday before the third Friday; they settle at prices determined during that Friday morning. Like ETFs and equities, these index options also have weekly settlements as well.

One critically important fact with which the trader needs to be familiar with is the unusual method of determining the settlement price of many of the underlyings; it is NOT the same as settlement described above. Settlement for this category of underlyings has the following two characteristics important for the trader to understand: 1.The settlement value is a calculated value published by the exchange and is determined from a calculation of the Friday opening prices of the various individual equities, and 2. This value has no obligate relationship to the Thursday closing value for the underlying.

Many option traders choose never to allow settlement for the options they hold, either long or short. For those who do allow positions to settle, careful evaluation of the potential impact on capital requirements of the account must be a routinely monitored to avoid any surprises.

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

March 6, 2014

Weekly Options and Time Decay

There are so many different characteristics of options that I talk a lot about with my options coaching students. But one of the more popular subjects is that premium sellers see the most dramatic erosion of the time value of options they have sold during the last week of the options cycle. Most premium sellers strive to keep the options they have sold short (also known as options they have “written”) out-of-the-money (OTM) in order that the entirety of the premium they have sold represents time (extrinsic) premium and is subject to this rapid time decay.

With 12 monthly cycles, there historically have been only 12 of these final weeks per year in which premium sellers have seen the maximum benefit of their core strategy. The widespread use of weekly options has changed the playing field. Options with one week durations are available on several indices and several hundred different stocks. These options have been in existence since October 2005 but only in the past couple of years have they gained widespread recognition and achieved sufficient trading volume to have good liquidity. Further now, there are weeklys that go for consecutive weeks (1 week options, 2 week options, 3 week options, 4 week options and 5 week options) that were just late last year.

Standard trading strategies employed by premium sellers can be executed in these options. The advantage is to gain the “sweet spot” of the time decay of premium without having to wait through the entirety of the 4 to 5 week option cycle. The party never ends for premium sellers using these innovative methods. Of course there is a trade-off because the shorter the time there is left until expiration, the smaller the option premiums are compared to an option with a longer expiration. As option traders we are used to tradeoffs.

Traders interested in using these weeklys MUST understand settlement procedures and be aware of last days for trading. An excellent discussion of weeklies given by Dan Passarelli is available at Learn to Trade Weeklys.

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

July 11, 2013

Time Decay and Weekly Options

One of the characteristics of options that I talk a lot about with my options coaching students is that premium sellers see the most dramatic erosion of the time value of options they have sold during the last week of the options cycle. Most premium sellers strive to keep the options they have sold short (also known as options they have “written”) out-of-the-money (OTM) in order that the entirety of the premium they have sold represents time (extrinsic) premium and is subject to this rapid time decay.

With 12 monthly cycles, there historically have been only 12 of these final weeks per year in which premium sellers have seen the maximum benefit of their core strategy. The widespread use of weekly options has changed the playing field. Options with one week durations are available on several indices and several hundred different stocks. These options have been in existence since October 2005 but only in the past couple of years have they gained widespread recognition and achieved sufficient trading volume to have good liquidity. Further now, there are weeklys that go for consecutive weeks (1 week options, 2 week options, 3 week options, 4 week options and 5 week options) that were just late last year.

Standard trading strategies employed by premium sellers can be executed in these options. The advantage is to

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gain the “sweet spot” of the time decay of premium without having to wait through the entirety of the 4 to 5 week option cycle. The party never ends for premium sellers using these innovative vehicles.

Traders interested in using these weeklys MUST understand settlement procedures and be aware of last days for trading. An excellent discussion of weeklies given by Dan Passarelli is available at Learn to Trade Weeklys.

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

December 27, 2012

Getting Familiar With Settlement

One infrequently discussed topic important to understand in becoming familiar with the mechanics of learning to trade options is that of the various settlement issues. Many option traders limit their universe of option trading to two broad categories of underlyings. One group consists of individual equity issues and the similar group of exchange traded funds (ETF). The other group is composed of the various broad based index products. These two groups are not entirely mutually exclusive since a number of very similar products exist in both categories, for example the broad based SPX index and its corresponding ETF, the SPY.

The first category, the individual equities and ETFs, trade until the close of market on the third Friday of each month for the monthly series contracts. These days there are many ETFs and equities that also have weekly settlements too. These contracts are of American type and as such can be exercised by the owner of the contracts for any reason whatsoever at

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any time until their expiration. If the contract is in-the-money at expiration by just one cent, clearing firms will also exercise these automatically for the owners unless specifically instructed not to do so. The settlement price against which these decisions are made is the price of the underlying at the close of the life of the option contract.

When this first group we are discussing settles, it is by the act of buying or selling shares of the underlying equity/ETF at the particular strike price. As such, the trader owning a long call will acquire a long position in the underlying and the owner of a put a short position. Conversely, the trader short these options will incur the offsetting action in his account. Obviously, existing additional positions in the equity/ETF itself may result in different final net positions.

The second category, the broad based index underlyings, are also termed “cash settled index options”. This category would include a number of indices, for example RUT and SPX. As the name implies, these series settle by movement of cash into and out of the trader’s account. The last day to trade these options is the Thursday before the third Friday; they settle at prices determined during that Friday morning. Like ETFs and equities, these index options also have weekly settlements as well.

One critically important fact with which the trader needs to be familiar with is the unusual method of determining the settlement price of many of the underlyings; it is NOT the same as settlement described above. Settlement for this category of underlyings has the following two characteristics important for the trader to understand: 1.The settlement value is a calculated value published by the exchange and is determined from a calculation of the Friday opening prices of the various individual equities, and 2. This value has no obligate relationship to the Thursday closing value for the underlying.

Many option traders choose never to allow settlement for the options they hold, either long or short. For those who do allow positions to settle, careful evaluation of the potential impact on capital requirements of the account must be a routinely monitored to avoid unpleasant or mysterious surprises.

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

November 29, 2012

Time Decay and Weeklys

One of the effects of the seasonality of options (that I talk a lot about with my options coaching students) is that premium sellers see the most dramatic erosion of the time value of options they have sold during the last week of the options cycle. Most premium sellers strive to keep the options they have sold short (also known as options they have “written”) out of the money (OTM) in order that the entirety of the premium they have sold represents time (extrinsic) premium and is subject to this rapid time decay.

With 12 monthly cycles, there historically have been only 12 of these final weeks per year in which premium sellers have seen the maximum benefit of their core strategy. The advent and widespread use of weekly options has changed the playing field. Options with one week durations are available on several indices and several hundred different stocks. These options have been in existence since October 2005 but only in the

past couple of years have they gained widespread recognition and achieved sufficient trading volume to have good liquidity. Further now, there are weeklys that go for consecutive weeks (1 week options, 2 week options, 3 week options, 4 week options and 5 week options) that were just added a couple of weeks ago.

Standard trading strategies employed by premium sellers can be executed in these options. The advantage is to gain the “sweet spot” of the time decay of premium without having to wait through the entirety of the 4 to 5 week option cycle. The party never ends for premium sellers using these innovative vehicles.

Traders interested in using these weeklys MUST understand settlement procedures and be aware of last days for trading. An excellent discussion of weeklies given by Dan Passarelli is available at Learn to Trade Weeklys.

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

October 18, 2012

Weekly Options Impact and AAPL

Options have traditionally traded in 12 cycles per year. Since there are 52 weeks per year, most monthly cycles have had a life span of 4 weeks with the occasional 5 week cycle in order to make the math work out. In these multi-week cycles, each week tends to have its own personality and the tempo of price change would often accelerate as expiration approached. This effect was at least in part the result of the non linear nature of the decay curve of extrinsic premium. It is as if the option cycle began with a decay curve akin to an easy green ski trail and ends on a double black diamond slope.

If you are just learning to trade options, strategies that include a component of being short premium, the maximum potential total profit or loss is only achieved at expiration. This effect is easily seen in the case of vertical spreads which only reach their maximum potential gain or loss at expiration or when the spread goes deep in-the-money or out-of-the-money.

CBOE introduced weekly options in 2005 on several broad indices and the launch was met with a tepid reception. However, trading volume in weekly options contracts has recently exploded, additional

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indices and ETF underlyings have been added, and a number of actively traded equities have joined the family of weekly options. An updated list of the rapidly increasing available weeklies can be found at this CBOE site: http://www.cboe.com/micro/weeklys/introduction.aspx

Weekly options are a rapidly evolving and changing part of the options world. The new week’s options are offered on the Thursday of the week prior to expiration rather than the Friday.

The availability of weekly options has undoubtedly had a significant impact on a variety of strategies. Their acceptance and increase in trading volume has been nothing short of stunning. For example, the 635 and 640 call strikes in AAPL that were offered this morning and will expire next Friday, October 26, each

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have a volume of around 3,000 contracts today alone.

Are weekly options something that you can incorporate into your trading plan? You will have to decide for yourself.

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

September 6, 2012

Butterflies and Weekly Options

The weekly options have been the topic of our blog many times before. Despite this topic being the trendy subject and in the forefront of many discussions, it is helpful to recognize the functional flexibility this dramatically shortened lifespan brings to a variety of option strategies. If you need to find out more about weekly options or other option strategies, feel free to visit the options education section on our website.

As an example, consider the case of a frequently traded spread vehicle, the butterfly. For those first encountering this strategy, it is helpful to consider briefly its components. It is constructed by establishing both a credit and a debit spread sharing a central strike price. It can be constructed in either all puts or all calls.

Butterflies can be designed to be either a non-directional or directional trade strategy. Functional characteristics include: negative vega, variable delta and accelerating gamma and theta during its life span. In the case of the long standing monthly duration option cycles which had heretofore been available, these characteristics developed over weeks to months and reached their final expression during the week of option expiration.

These functional characteristics have limited the utility of butterflies over brief duration moves occurring early in the options cycle. Many butterfly traders have had the experience of correctly predicting price action early in the cycle only to have the butterfly deliver little, if any, profit.

The short nine day duration of the weekly options has dramatically accelerated the pace of butterfly trading as the changes begin to occur literally over the extent of a few hours. As such, it is possible to gain the

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advantage of this trade structure over brief directional moves or in the case of non-directional traders to have market exposure for briefer periods of time.

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

December 22, 2011

Weekly Options Impact

Options have traditionally traded in 12 cycles per year.  Since there are 52 weeks per year, most monthly cycles have had a life span of 4 weeks with the occasional 5 week cycle in order to make the math work out. In these multi-week cycles, each week tends to have its own personality and the tempo of price change would often accelerate as expiration approached.  This effect was at least in part the result of the non linear nature of the decay curve of extrinsic premium.  It is as if the option cycle began with a decay curve akin to an easy green ski trail and ends on a double black diamond slope.

For strategies that include a component of being short premium, the maximum potential total profit or loss is only achieved at expiration.  This effect is easily seen in the case of vertical spreads which only reach their maximum potential gain or loss at expiration or when the spread goes deep in-the-money or out-of-the-money.

CBOE introduced weekly options in 2005 on several broad indices and the launch was met with a tepid reception.  However, trading volume in weekly options contracts has recently exploded, additional indices and ETF underlyings have been added, and a number of actively traded equities have joined the family of weekly options.  An updated list of the rapidly increasing available weeklies can be found at this CBOE site: http://www.cboe.com/micro/weeklys/introduction.aspx

Weekly options are a rapidly evolving and changing part of the options world.  As an example of this rapid evolution, the new week’s options have begun to be offered on the Thursday of the week prior to expiration rather than the Friday as had been the case previously effective July 1, 2010.

The availability of weekly options has undoubtedly had a significant impact on a variety of strategies.  Their acceptance and increase in trading volume has been nothing short of stunning.  For example, the 390 and 395 call strikes in AAPL that will expire tomorrow, December 23, each have an open interest of around 10,000 contracts.

Are weekly options something that you can incorporate into your trading plan? You will have to decide for yourself.

Edited by John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring