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Can Retail Clients Execute Option Ratio Spreads, If So, How?

In today’s report, we shall focus on how retail clients can design ratio spreads. We shall also look into the objectives of a ratio trader. First, let us find out what a ratio spread is. In conventional terms, a ratio spread is an options trading methodology in which a trader combines a number of long and short positions and considers it as a single trade. You can think of it as a bouquet which comprises of different flowers but is sold as one single unit.

Picture source - Moneycontrol

Two Different Market Types

If you notice closely, markets can be classified under two distinct categories based on the shift in options Vega. Either the market can be hit with high volatility or will witness a period of low volatility. To design a profitable ratio, the trader must accurately calculate whether the options implied volatility will rise or is likely to drop. The idea here is to design a spread that fits these two parameters also keeping in mind the time till expiry. It is very similar to shifting gears in an automobile depending on the condition of the road and the speed of the vehicle. If the road is bumpy, the driver slows down the vehicle and the gears are shifted down to induce more thrust and keep the momentum intact.

Ratios For Low Volatility

In practice, retail clients can also design ratios. All they need to do is analyze whether the implied volatility is low or high. During a low volatility phase, front spreads or vertical spreads are effective. In a front spread, a number of options are sold than purchased. This is a ratio which is built when volatility decreases. A front ration spread will generate returns when the volatility drops. It is similar to the trade we had showcased in many of our articles. The ratio comprised of selling in 2 lots of 49,000 Call option and buying in 1 lot of 49,500 Call option (all monthly contracts)

Ratios For High Volatility

In situations when markets are hit with high volatility, retail traders can focus on back spreads. In a back spread, the options trader buys a number of options than he sells. These spreads are designed to generate returns during high volatility or when the IV increases. Implications of this argument are that the spread’s gamma and Vega covariance factors should fall in line to benefit the option combination. Whatever be the case, the implied standard deviation of the sold options in a ratio generally must exceed that of the bought options.

Live Example

This trade was helped by our 3D Delta software. We bought 47,600 CE at INR 157 and sold 47,800 CE at INR 65. The ratio was 1:1, so the maximum loss was the debit we paid i.e. INR 92 and maximum profit was INR 200. Today, Bank Nifty first fell 679 points by making a low of 47,435 and then gave a quick recovery of 524 points till 47,959. The important point to notice is, this spread was created because unnecessary premium was injected in puts, making calls dangerously undervalued. This spread made a low of INR 22 and then the bounce came and we squared off the spread @ INR 172, you can see the price at which we covered the individual legs in the trade screenshot.

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