Futures and Options Glossary A - B


Abandon: To elect not to exercise or offset a long option position.

Accommodation Trading: Non-competitive trading entered into by a trader, usually to assist another with illegal trades.

Actuals: The physical or cash commodity, as distinguished from a futures contract. See Cash and Spot Commodity.

Agency Bond: A debt security issued by a government-sponsored enterprise such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, designed to resemble a U.S. Treasury bond.

Agency Note: A debt security issued by a government-sponsored enterprise such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, designed to resemble a U.S. Treasury note.

Aggregation: The principle under which all futures positions owned or controlled by one trader (or group of traders acting in concert) are combined to determine reporting status and compliance with speculative position limits.

Agricultural Trade Option Merchant: Any person that is in the business of soliciting or entering option transactions involving an enumerated agricultural commodity that are not conducted or executed on or subject to the rules of an exchange.

Allowances: The discounts (premiums) allowed for grades or locations of a commodity lower (higher) than the par (or basis) grade or location specified in the futures contract. See Differentials.

American Option: An option that can be exercised at any time prior to or on the expiration date. See European Option.

Approved Delivery Facility: Any bank, stockyard, mill, storehouse, plant, elevator, or other depository that is authorized by an exchange for the delivery of commodities tendered on futures contracts.

Arbitrage: A strategy involving the simultaneous purchase and sale of identical or equivalent commodity futures contracts or other instruments across two or more markets in order to benefit from a discrepancy in their price relationship. In a theoretical efficient market, there is a lack of opportunity for profitable arbitrage. See Spread.

Arbitration: A process for settling disputes between parties that is less structured than court proceedings. The National Futures Association arbitration program provides a forum for resolving futures-related disputes between NFA members or between NFA members and customers. Other forums for customer complaints include the American Arbitration Association.

Artificial Price: A futures price that has been affected by a manipulation and is thus higher or lower than it would have been if it reflected the forces of supply and demand.

Asian Option: An exotic option whose payoff depends on the average price of the underlying asset during some portion of the life of the option.

Ask: The price level of an offer, as in bid-ask spread.

Assignable Contract: A contract that allows the holder to convey his rights to a third party. Exchange-traded contracts are not assignable.

Assignment: Designation by a clearing organization of an option writer who will be required to buy (in the case of a put) or sell (in the case of a call) the underlying futures contract or security when an option has been exercised, especially if it has been exercised early.

Associated Person (AP): An individual who solicits or accepts (other than in a clerical capacity) orders, discretionary accounts, or participation in a commodity pool, or supervises any individual so engaged, on behalf of a futures commission merchant, an introducing broker, a commodity trading advisor, a commodity pool operator, or an agricultural trade option merchant.

At-the-Market: An order to buy or sell a futures contract at whatever price is obtainable when the order reaches the trading facility. See Market Order.

At-the-Money: When an option's strike price is the same as the current trading price of the underlying commodity, the option is at-the-money.

Auction Rate Security: A debt security, typically issued by a municipality, in which the yield is reset on each payment date via a Dutch auction.

Audit Trail: The record of trading information identifying, for example, the brokers participating in each transaction, the firms clearing the trade, the terms and time or sequence of the trade, the order receipt and execution time, and, ultimately, and when applicable, the customers involved.

Automatic Exercise: A provision in an option contract specifying that it will be exercised automatically on the expiration date if it is in-the-money by a specified amount, absent instructions to the contrary.


Back Months: Futures delivery months other than the spot or front month (also called deferred months).

Back Office: The department in a financial institution that processes and deals and handles delivery, settlement, and regulatory procedures.

Back pricing: Fixing the price of a commodity for which the commitment to purchase has been made in advance. The buyer can fix the price relative to any monthly or periodic delivery using the futures markets.

Back Spread: A delta-neutral ratio spread in which more options are bought than sold. A back spread will be profitable if volatility increases. See Delta.

Backwardation: Market situation in which futures prices are progressively lower in the distant delivery months. For instance, if the gold quotation for January is $360.00 per ounce and that for June is $355.00 per ounce, the backwardation for five months against January is $5.00 per ounce. (Backwardation is the opposite of contango). See Inverted Market.

Banker's Acceptance: A draft or bill of exchange accepted by a bank where the accepting institution guarantees payment. Used extensively in foreign trade transactions.

Basis: The difference between the spot or cash price of a commodity and the price of the nearest futures contract for the same or a related commodity. Basis is usually computed in relation to the futures contract next to expire and may reflect different time periods, product forms, grades, or locations.

Basis Grade: The grade of a commodity used as the standard or par grade of a futures contract.

Basis Point: The measurement of a change in the yield of a debt security. One basis point equals 1/100 of one percent.

Basis Quote: Offer or sale of a cash commodity in terms of the difference above or below a futures price (e.g., 10 cents over December corn).

Basis Risk: The risk associated with an unexpected widening or narrowing of basis between the time a hedge position is established and the time that it is lifted.

Basis Swap: A swap whose cash settlement price is calculated based on the basis between a futures contract and the spot price of the underlying commodity or a closely related commodity on a specified date.

Bear: One who expects a decline in prices. The opposite of a bull. A news item is considered bearish if it is expected to result in lower prices.

Bear Market: A market in which prices generally are declining over a period of months or years. Opposite of bull market.

Bear Market Rally: A temporary rise in prices during a bear market. See Correction.

Bear Spread: (1) A strategy involving the simultaneous purchase and sale of options of the same class and expiration date, but different strike prices. In a bear spread, the option that is purchased has a lower delta than the option that is bought. For example, in a call bear spread, the purchased option has a higher exercise price than the option that is sold. Also called bear vertical spread. (2) The simultaneous purchase and sale of two futures contracts in the same or related commodities with the intention of profiting from a decline in prices but at the same time limiting the potential loss if this expectation does not materialize. In agricultural products, this is accomplished by selling a nearby delivery and buying a deferred delivery

Bear Vertical Spread: See Bear Spread.

Beta (Beta Coefficient): A measure of the variability of rate of return or value of a stock or portfolio compared to that of the overall market, typically used as a measure of riskiness.

Bid: An offer to buy a specific quantity of a commodity at a stated price.

Bid-Ask Spread: The difference between the bid price and the ask or offer price.

Blackboard Trading: The practice, no longer used, of buying and selling commodities by posting prices on a blackboard on a wall of a commodity exchange.

Black-Scholes Model: An option pricing model initially developed by Fischer Black and Myron Scholes for securities options and later refined by Black for options on futures.

Block Trade: A large transaction that is negotiated off a trading floor or facility and then executed on an exchange’s trading facility, as permitted under exchange rules. For more information, see CFTC Advisory: Alternative Execution, or Block Trading, Procedures for the Futures Industry.

Board Order: See Market-if-Touched Order.

Board of Trade: Any organized exchange or other trading facility for the trading of futures and/or option contracts.

Boiler Room: An enterprise that often is operated out of inexpensive, low-rent quarters (hence the term "boiler room"), that uses high pressure sales tactics (generally over the telephone), and possibly false or misleading information to solicit generally unsophisticated investors.

Booking the Basis: A forward pricing sales arrangement in which the cash price is determined either by the buyer or seller within a specified time. At that time, the previously-agreed basis is applied to the then-current futures quotation.

Book Transfer: A series of accounting or bookkeeping entries used to settle a series of cash market transactions.

Box Spread: An option position in which the owner establishes a long call and a short put at one strike price and a short call and a long put at another strike price, all of which are in the same contract month in the same commodity.

Break: A rapid and sharp price decline.

Broad-Based Security Index: Any index of securities that does not meet the legal definition of narrow-based security index.

Broker: A person paid a fee or commission for executing buy or sell orders for a customer. In commodity futures trading, the term may refer to: (1) Floor broker, a person who actually executes orders on the trading floor of an exchange; (2) Account executive or associated person, the person who deals with customers in the offices of futures commission merchants; or (3) the futures commission merchant.

Broker Association: Two or more persons with exchange trading privileges who (1) share responsibility for executing customer orders; (2) have access to each other's unfilled customer orders as a result of common employment or other types of relationships; or (3) share profits or losses associated with their brokerage or trading activity.

Bucketing: Directly or indirectly taking the opposite side of a customer's order into a broker's own account or into an account in which a broker has an interest, without open and competitive execution of the order on an exchange. Also called trading against.

Bucket Shop: A brokerage enterprise that “books" (i.e., takes the opposite side of) retail customer orders without actually having them executed on an exchange.

Bull: One who expects a rise in prices. The opposite of bear. A news item is considered bullish if it is expected to result in higher prices.

Bullion: Bars or ingots of precious metals, usually cast in standardized sizes.

Bull Market: A market in which prices generally are rising over a period of months or years. Opposite of bear market.

Bull Spread: (1) A strategy involving the simultaneous purchase and sale of options of the same class and expiration date but different strike prices. In a bull vertical spread, the purchased option has a higher delta than the option that is sold. For example, in a call bull spread, the purchased option has a lower exercise price than the sold option. Also called bull vertical spread. (2) The simultaneous purchase and sale of two futures contracts in the same or related commodities with the intention of profiting from a rise in prices but at the same time limiting the potential loss if this expectation is wrong. In agricultural commodities, this is accomplished by buying the nearby delivery and selling the deferred.

Bull Vertical Spread: See Bull Spread.

Buoyant: A market in which prices have a tendency to rise easily with a considerable show of strength.

Bunched Order: A discretionary order entered on behalf of multiple customers.

Butterfly Spread: A three-legged option spread in which each leg has the same expiration date but different strike prices. For example, a butterfly spread in soybean call options might consist of one long call at a $5.50 strike price, two short calls at a $6.00 strike price, and one long call at a $6.50 strike price.

Buyer: A market participant who takes a long futures position or buys an option. An option buyer is also called a taker, holder, or owner.

Buyer's Call: A purchase of a specified quantity of a specific grade of a commodity at a fixed number of points above or below a specified delivery month futures price with the buyer allowed a period of time to fix the price either by purchasing a futures contract for the account of the seller or telling the seller when he wishes to fix the price. See Seller’s Call.

Buyer's Market: A condition of the market in which there is an abundance of goods available and hence buyers can afford to be selective and may be able to buy at less than the price that previously prevailed. See Seller's Market.

Buying Hedge (or Long Hedge): Hedging transaction in which futures contracts are bought to protect against possible increases in the cost of commodities. See Hedging.

Buy (or Sell) On Close: To buy (or sell) at the end of the trading session within the closing price range.

Buy (or Sell) On Opening: To buy (or sell) at the beginning of a trading session within the open price range.

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