Stocks & Commodities V. 25:5 (58-60): Options Arbitrage by Jesse Chen

Stocks & Commodities V. 25:5 (58-60): Options Arbitrage by Jesse Chen
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Stocks & Commodities V. 25:5 (58-60): Options Arbitrage by Jesse Chen

What is arbitrage? Is it really for you?

Of all the option analysis strategies, arbitrage trades seem to be one of the most intriguing and elusive strategies. Arbitrage is defined as the buying and selling of a financial instrument in order to profit from the price differential. This traditionally occurs between two different exchanges, possibly between a domestic and foreign exchange where one exchange has not adjusted for the constantly changing currency rates. Arbitrage was made famous in the movie Rogue Trader, in which Nick Leason supposedly made millions arbitraging the Nikkei index between the Singapore and UK exchanges.

Option arbitrage involves the simultaneous buying and selling of options either between exchanges or the same exchange. We will cover six different types of option strategies: strike, calendar, intramarket, and conversions, boxes, and straddles. When trading arbs, take into account that there can be early assignment of any in-the-money options for all American-style exercise options (exercise before expiration). In addition, possible dividend liability exists on any exercised short puts during dividend dates.


A calendar arbitrage involves the buying and selling of options with the same underlying options, strike, and type (call or put), but different months where the nearer month is sold for more than the farther month is bought (Figure 1). Calendar arbitrages may require longer periods in order to realize the small profit.

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