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What is Horizontal Spread? What issues should be paid attention to regarding Horizontal Spread?

TraderKnows
TraderKnows
04-24

Horizontal Spread, also known as time arbitrage or calendar arbitrage, is a trading strategy for options or futures.

What is Horizontal Spread Arbitrage?

Horizontal Spread Arbitrage, also known as time spread or calendar spread, is an options or futures trading strategy that profits from the price difference between options or futures contracts of the same underlying asset with different expiration dates.

Horizontal spread arbitrage involves simultaneously buying and selling options or futures contracts of the same underlying asset with different expiration dates. Typically, the contract with the shorter expiration date is called the front month contract, and the one with the longer expiration date is called the back month contract. The goal of horizontal spread arbitrage is to profit from the change in the price difference.

There are two common types of horizontal spread arbitrage: bullish horizontal spread and bearish horizontal spread.

  • Bullish Horizontal Spread (Positive Calendar Spread): In a bullish horizontal spread, traders buy a back month contract while selling a front month contract of the same underlying asset. Traders expect the price of the back month contract to rise or exhibit greater volatility, making the front month contract relatively cheaper and thus profiting from the price differential.
  • Bearish Horizontal Spread (Negative Calendar Spread): In a bearish horizontal spread, traders buy a front month contract while selling a back month contract. Contrary to the bullish horizontal spread, traders expect the back month contract's price to fall or exhibit less volatility, making the front month contract comparatively more expensive and thus profiting from this difference.

The profitability of horizontal spread arbitrage depends on the changes in the underlying asset's price and volatility, as well as the decay of time value. If the underlying asset's price fluctuates significantly between the expiration of the two contracts, or if the time value decays slowly, horizontal spread traders can make a profit. However, if the underlying asset's price fluctuates minimally or the time value decays rapidly, horizontal spread arbitrage might result in a loss.

Horizontal spread arbitrage is often viewed as a relatively low-risk strategy, as it reduces market risk through hedging the held contracts. However, traders need to closely monitor changes in the underlying asset's price and the decay of time value, and manage position size and risk effectively to ensure profitable opportunities.

What Should You Pay Attention to in Horizontal Spread Arbitrage?

What are the Risk Management Methods for Horizontal Spread Arbitrage?

In conducting horizontal spread arbitrage, traders need to adopt appropriate risk management measures, including:

  • Carefully managing position size: Determine the appropriate position size to control risk and capital management.
  • Setting stop-loss and take-profit orders: Set stop-loss and take-profit orders when entering horizontal spread trades to limit potential losses and ensure profits.
  • Monitoring market conditions: Closely watch market price movements, volatility changes, and other influencing factors, adjusting strategies and positions timely.

What are the Advantages of Horizontal Spread Arbitrage?

Horizontal spread arbitrage has several advantages:

  • Low Risk: As horizontal spread arbitrage is done on different expiration dates or strike prices of the same asset, its risk is relatively lower compared to single-direction trading strategies.
  • Hedging Effect: By simultaneously buying and selling different contracts, horizontal spread arbitrage can hedge some market volatility impacts, reducing trading risk.
  • Relatively Stable Profits: Profits from horizontal spread arbitrage usually come from price differences, rather than overall market trends, making them comparatively stable and unaffected by market ups and downs.
  • Flexibility: Horizontal spread arbitrage can adapt to different market conditions and asset classes, providing more trading opportunities and flexibility.

What are the Limitations of Horizontal Spread Arbitrage?

Horizontal spread arbitrage may be affected by the following limitations:

  • Trading Costs: Engaging in horizontal spread arbitrage might entail transaction fees, commissions, and other costs, which can impact the profit from arbitrage.
  • Market Liquidity: Adequate market liquidity is necessary for timely entry and exit of trades in horizontal spread arbitrage, otherwise, there could be risks of execution difficulties and slippage.
  • Scarcity of Arbitrage Opportunities: Opportunities for horizontal spread arbitrage may be relatively scarce, with market opportunities being time-sensitive and requiring prompt action.
  • Market Risks: Though partial risk can be hedged in horizontal spread arbitrage, it cannot completely eliminate market risks, such as unpredictable events and market shocks.

How is Horizontal Spread Arbitrage Different from Other Forms of Arbitrage?

Horizontal spread arbitrage is a form of arbitrage trading, differing from other arbitrage strategies in the following ways:

  • Vertical Arbitrage: Horizontal spread arbitrage involves contracts with different expiration dates or strike prices, whereas vertical arbitrage involves contracts with the same expiration date but different strike prices.
  • Time Value Arbitrage: Horizontal spread arbitrage mainly profits from the price difference between contracts with different expiration dates, while time value arbitrage focuses on the price difference between contracts with the same expiration date but different strike prices.
  • Cross-Commodity Arbitrage: Horizontal spread arbitrage usually occurs between different contracts of the same commodity, whereas cross-commodity arbitrage involves arbitrage opportunities between different commodities.

Risk Warning and Disclaimer

The market carries risks, and investment should be cautious. This article does not constitute personal investment advice and has not taken into account individual users' specific investment goals, financial situations, or needs. Users should consider whether any opinions, viewpoints, or conclusions in this article are suitable for their particular circumstances. Investing based on this is at one's own responsibility.

The End

Wiki

Horizontal Spread

Horizontal Spread is a financial trading strategy designed to profit from price differences or spreads in the market.

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