Definition Of Options Trading-Option trading is a way of entering a market with a relatively small upfront investment, but with the possibility of netting you a much bigger return on investment than if you had traded in the underlying instrument. What you are doing in option trading is purchasing the right to buy or sell the underlying security within a specified time period.
In option trading with stock for example, an option gives you the right to purchase or sell a fixed number of shares, determined by the option contract specification, within a specified time period and at a specified price. Hence, as an option buyer, you either execute that trade within the specified time period or forfeit the premium you paid, or else you sell the option itself for either a profit or loss depending on what has happened in the intervening period. Option trading expirations for a given option series are generally spaced one month apart, and the termination date is generally the third Saturday of the month or any other day decided by the Stock Exchanges. Once that date has expired, all rights of the trader cease and he cannot use the option to buy or sell that particular underlying stock.
Option trading is quite dissimilar to stock trading. Before you decide to enter this field of trading options, you must understand the concepts and terminology, because the jargon alone can be very disconcerting to a new comer. The profit and loss concepts, as well as the various factors that contribute to the price of the option, are completely different to that of the underlying security. Option trading also provides you with vastly more opportunities to profit than does the simply purchase or sale of the underlying instrument. If you know what you are doing, it is actually safer to trade the options than the underlying stock.
The option trader who buys options has no obligation to act whatsoever, and is only obligated to pay the premium to buy the option in the first place. He retains the right to exercise his options in the future, should the opportunity arise and should he wish to do so. The option "exercise price" locks in the specified price at which the underlying stock can be bought or sold for the lifetime of the option. If you are the owner of a call option, giving you the right to buy stock at the exercise price, and the stock price rises above the exercise price during the lifetime of your call option, you can exercise your option to acquire the stock at that exercise price instead of the prevailing price in the market, which may be far higher. In other words, you are buying stock cheaper than the market value.
Should the stock price fall or merely remain below the exercise price, the call option buyer cannot exercise the option at all, but can either sell the option and thereby exit the position at a loss or breakeven. Alternatively, he can hold onto it with the expectation that the market value of the option will rise, dependent upon factors such as the underlying stock price, volatility, time to expiry and more.
Generally though, because of the leverage that options provide, you can control a far larger amount of the underlying stock for a relatively small capital outlay compared with buying or selling the underlying instrument. That is what makes options so attractive because there exists the potential to make far higher return on capital than through merely trading the underlying instrument. When you know what you are doing, there are also far more trading opportunities with relatively lower risk compared to merely buying or selling the underlying.
Terms in usage
Option trading for stocks is generally in blocks of 100 shares, i.e. one option contract gives you the right to buy/sell 100 shares at the strike price.
The option giving the right to buy the underlying instrument at the strike price is called the "call" option.
The option giving the right to sell the underlying instrument at the strike price is called the "put" option.
The price set in the option trading contract at which the underlying may be bought or sold is called the "strike price".
In option trading, for call options you are "in the money" if your strike price is below the market price of the stock. For put options, if the strike price is higher than the current market price, you are again said to be "in the money".
Similarly, if while option trading, you own calls and the strike price is higher than the current market price, your call options are said to be "out of the money". With put options, you are "out of the money" if your strike price is lower than the current price.
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