The strike price may be set by reference to the spot price market price of the underlying security or commodity on the day an option is taken out, or it may be fixed at a discount or at a premium.
By Investopedia Staff Updated May 19, An options contract gives an investor the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell shares at a specific price at any time, as long as the contract is in effect. By contrast, a futures contract requires a buyer to purchase shares—and a seller to sell them—on a specific future date, unless the holder's position is closed before the expiration date.
The seller has the corresponding obligation to fulfill the transaction i. An option that conveys to the owner the right to buy at a specific price is referred to as a call ; an option that conveys the right of the owner to sell at a specific price is referred to as a put.
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- Introduction[ edit ] An option is the right to convey a piece of property.
- The distinction between American and European options has nothing to do with geography, only with early exercise.
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The seller may grant an option to a buyer as part of another transaction, such as a share issue or as part of an employee incentive scheme, otherwise a buyer would pay a premium to the seller for the option. A call option would normally be exercised only when the strike price is below the market value of the underlying asset, while a put option would normally be exercised only when the strike price is above the market value.
When an option is exercised, the cost to the buyer of the asset acquired is the strike price plus the premium, if any. When the option expiration date passes without the option being exercised, the option expires and the buyer would forfeit the premium to the seller.
In any case, the premium is income to the seller, and normally a capital loss to the buyer. The owner of an option may on-sell the option to a third party in a secondary marketin either an over-the-counter transaction or on an options exchangedepending on the option.
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The market price of an American-style option normally closely follows that of the underlying stock being the difference between the market price of the stock and the strike price of the option. The actual market price of the option may vary depending on a number of factors, such as a significant option holder may need to sell the option as the expiry date is approaching and does not have the financial resources to exercise the option, or a buyer in the market is trying to amass a large option holding.
The ownership of an option does not generally entitle the holder to any rights associated with the underlying asset, such as voting rights or any income from the underlying asset, such as a dividend. History[ edit ] Historical uses of options[ edit ] Contracts similar to options have been used since ancient times.
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On a certain occasion, it was predicted that the season's olive harvest would option is a contract larger than usual, and during the off-season, he acquired the right to use a number of olive presses the following spring. When spring came and the olive harvest was larger than expected he exercised his options and then rented the presses out at a much higher price than he paid for his 'option'.
Their exercise price was fixed at a option is a contract market price on the day or week that the option was bought, and the expiry date was generally three months after purchase.
They were not traded in secondary markets. In the real estate market, call options have long been used to assemble large parcels of land from separate owners; e. Many choices, or embedded options, have traditionally been included in bond contracts.
What is an Options contract?
For example, many bonds are convertible into common stock at the buyer's option, or may be called bought back at specified prices at the issuer's option. Mortgage borrowers have long had the option to repay the loan early, which corresponds to a callable bond option.
Modern stock options[ edit ] Options contracts have been known for decades.
An options contract is an agreement between two parties to facilitate a potential transaction on the underlying security at a preset price, referred to as the strike priceprior to the expiration date.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange was established inwhich set up a regime using standardized forms and terms and trade through a guaranteed clearing house.
Trading activity and academic interest has increased since then.
Today, many options are created in a standardized form and traded through clearing houses on regulated options exchangeswhile other over-the-counter options are written as bilateral, customized contracts between a single buyer and seller, one or both of which may be a dealer or market-maker.
Options are part of a larger class of financial instruments known as derivative productsor simply, derivatives.
Option contracts may be quite complicated; overtrading signs, at minimum, they usually contain the following specifications:  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.
Options Spreads What Is an Option? Options are financial instruments that are derivatives based on the value of underlying securities such as stocks.