Derivatives Market: An Overview

Derivatives Market

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In the derivatives market, there are financial contracts whose value is determined by the underlying asset. These assets are referred to as derivatives. Stocks, indexes, commodities, currencies, exchange rates, and interest rates are examples of underlying. The derivatives industry has grown tremendously during the last few decades. A large number of derivative contracts have been launched on exchanges all around the world. 

Increased swings in underlying asset values, global financial market integration, enhanced understanding of market participants, advanced risk management tools to control risk, and rapid developments in derivatives market were the key drivers of the expansion.

What is the derivatives market?

A derivative market refer to a market where the value of the contract is determined by the underlying asset. Indices, currencies, exchange rates, commodities, stocks, and interest rates are all examples of derivatives. The buyer and seller of these contracts have diametrically opposed expectations about future trading prices. To make a profit, both parties wager on the future value of the underlying assets.

The procedure of trading derivatives is similar to that of buying and selling stocks. However, instead of paying the entire amount upfront, a trader just pays a stockbroker an initial margin.

Different categories of derivatives

Forwards: It is a contract between two parties to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specific price at a future date that is predetermined on the contract date. Regardless of the price of the underlying asset at the time the contract expires, both parties are committed and obligated to complete the transaction. The terms and circumstances of contracts for forwards are personalised because they are negotiated between two parties. These are OTC contracts or over-the-counter contracts.

  • Futures: It’s similar to a forward contract, except that instead of being negotiated directly between two parties, the transaction is performed through an organised and controlled exchange.
  • Options: It’s a contract that allows you the option to purchase or sell the underlying on or before a certain date and at a certain price, but not the responsibility to do so. The option writer receives the premium with the obligation to sell/buy the underlying asset if the buyer exercises his right. In contrast, the option buyer pays the premium and purchases the right.
  • Swaps: A contract between two parties to exchange future cash flows according to a predetermined formula. Swaps enable market players to manage the risk of interest rate and currency exchange rate volatility.
  • Hedgers, traders, and arbitrageurs are the three main types of players in the derivatives market. In different market situations, an individual may play a variety of roles.
  • Hedgers: Someone who uses derivatives to mitigate risk.
  • Traders: Those who trade in the market to take positions in desired contracts based on their view are called traders. Derivatives are preferred over the underlying assets for trading purposes. As a result, they offer more leverage, more liquidity, and fewer expenses as transaction cost is generally lower than the spot market.
  • Arbitrageurs: Traders buy an asset at a low price on one exchange and sell it at a higher one on another throughout this procedure. Arbitrageurs would rush into these trades, closing the price disparity at various places. Thus such opportunities are unlikely to last long.

Why use Derivatives

  • Leverage: Because it necessitates a certain proportion of margins in comparison to the absolute value of the deal, it is referred to as leverage.
  • Liquidity: It is more liquid because of its leverage and cheap cost. The lower the effective cost of trades, the higher the liquidity.
  • Hedging: Hedging is used to hedge against price fluctuations in the near term.

How to trade in Derivatives Market

1. This is especially critical in the derivatives market. Only accessible derivatives contracts are available for trading. As a result, you can have three contract months at a time, each of which has its expiry date, which is normally the last Thursday of the month. Traders must quit before the expiration date. Otherwise, the account will be auto-settled on the expiry day. As a result, purchasing shares in delivery necessitates a more precise and time-bound approach.

2. Derivatives contracts are started by paying a small margin and require a further margin in the hands of traders as stock prices fluctuate. Also, keep in mind that the margin amount fluctuates when the underlying stock’s price rises or decreases. As a result, keep some cash in your account at all times.

What are the prerequisites for Derivatives trading

1. Trading account: You can make transactions using an online trading account. In the markets, your account number serves as your identification. This makes the deal one-of-a-kind for you, and you should open it with a reputable and well-known broker like ABinvesting, who can offer you research assistance as well as superior and more personalised services.

2. Margin maintenance: This requirement is specific to derivatives trading; regardless of whether you buy or sell futures, you are only obliged to deposit a percentage of the value of your existing position when purchasing futures contracts. An initial margin is a name given to this required deposit. The first margin is anticipated to be paid in advance. 

The exposure margin is used to reduce volatility and aggressive speculation in the derivatives market. This margin is set by the exchange and is based on the value of the contract you buy or sell. Mark-to-Market (MTM) margins must be maintained in addition to the original and exposure margins. 

The daily difference between the contract’s cost and its closing price on the day of purchase is covered by this. Following that, the MTM margin accounts for fluctuations in closing prices from one day to the next. The stock exchange determines how much you must deposit based on the volatility of a specific derivatives transaction.


A futures contract promises to purchase or sell the underlying and has a linear payoff, implying that losses and gains are limitless. However, some market players wanted to ride the upswing while limiting their losses. As a result, options arose as a financial tool that limited losses while allowing for infinite gains when purchasing or selling the underlying asset. 

An option is a contract that gives you the right, but not the duty, to buy or sell an underlying instrument at a predetermined price on or before a particular date. The person who takes a long position, i.e., buys the option, is known as the option holder, whereas the person who takes a short position, i.e., sells the option, is known as the option writer.

The option buyer has the right but not the responsibility to purchase or sell the underlying asset, whereas the option writer has the contract’s obligation. As a result, the option buyer/holder will only exercise his option when favorable circumstances. Still, the option writer will be legally compelled to honour the contract if he does so.

Options can be divided into two categories:

Call Options: A call option is a type of option that offers the buyer the right to purchase the underlying asset.

Put Options: A Put option allows the buyer to sell the underlying asset.

How Derivatives Can Fit into a Portfolio for a partial or full hedging

Investors commonly use derivatives for three reasons: to hedge a position, take advantage of high leverage, or speculate on an asset’s movement. Hedging a position is often done to protect or insure an asset’s risk. For example, you could buy a put option if you own shares of a stock and want to hedge against the possibility that the stock’s price will decline. 

Traders can utilise naked options or option strategies depending on their market outlook, such as bullish, bearish, volatile, or range-bound. Bull Call Spread, Bear Put Spread, Call Hedge, Put Hedge, Covered Call, Covered Put, Butterfly, Strip, Strap, Iron Condor, and others are common option strategies.

If the stock price rises, you profit since you own the shares, and if the stock price falls, your risk is restricted because your Put option will compensate you for any stock losses. To comprehend market activity, participants utilise several derivatives indicators such as Call Put Ratio, Cost of Carry, Open Interest, Volatility, and so on.

Advantages of Derivative Trading

  • Low transaction costs: Because derivative contracts are risk management instruments, they help to reduce market transaction costs. As a result, compared to other securities such as debentures and shares, transaction cost in derivative stock trading is cheaper.
  • Risk management:  Derivative contracts are used in risk management since their value is directly proportional to the underlying asset’s price. As a result, derivatives are utilised to mitigate the risks associated with fluctuating underlying asset prices. A person may, for example, purchase a derivative contract whose value swings in the opposite direction of the price of the asset he owns. As a result, he’ll be able to offset losses in the underlying asset with earnings from the derivatives.
  • Market efficiency: Arbitrage is a crucial part of derivative trade since it ensures that the market must be balanced and that the prices of the underlying assets are right.
  • Determination of asset price: The price of an underlying asset is frequently determined through derivative contracts.

The risk may be transferred – Derivatives allow investors, corporations, and other parties to shift risk to others.

Disadvantages of Derivative Trading

It’s critical to understand the downsides of derivative trading after learning what it is.

  • High risk: Derivative contracts are extremely volatile because of the fast fluctuation in the value of an underlying asset like stocks. As a result, traders run the danger of losing a lot of money.
  • Counterparty risk – Derivative transactions, such as futures, are organised and regulated on exchanges like the NYSE and Nasdaq. However, OTC derivatives, such as forwards, are not standardised. As a result, there’s always the possibility of a counterparty default.
  • Speculative in nature – Derivative contracts are frequently employed as speculative instruments. However, speculative investments sometimes result in significant losses because of the considerable risk involved and the unpredictability of their value changes.

Bottom Line

Derivative trading necessitates in-depth product knowledge as well as a high level of skill. Therefore, all investors should perform extensive research on this process and devise effective techniques for minimising losses and maximising returns.

You can trade in derivatives market with a highly regulated broker like ABinvesting and achieve your financial goal using the world-class trading environment offered by the brokerage firm. 

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