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Breaking down the basics of listed options: A must-read for intermediate traders

For intermediate traders looking to expand their trading toolkit and enhance their market strategies, listed options present a compelling opportunity. Options are versatile financial instruments that offer the choice, but not the constraint, to purchase or resell an asset at a set price within a specified time frame.

These derivatives can be employed for various purposes, including speculation, hedging, income generation, and portfolio enhancement. However, to fully leverage the potential of listed options, intermediate traders must first understand how options work and the different strategies available to them.

The anatomy of an option: Calls and puts

Buying options from institutions such as Saxo Bank come in two primary forms: calls and puts. A call option gives the holder the choice to purchase the underlying asset at the strike price on or before the expiration date. On the other hand, a put option gives the holder the ability to resell the underlying asset at the strike price within the specified time frame. Each option contract typically represents 100 shares of the underlying asset.

For example, suppose a trader purchases one call option contract on XYZ Company with a strike price of $50 and an expiration date one month from now. If the price of XYZ’s stock rises above $50 before the expiration date, the trader can exercise the call option and buy 100 shares of XYZ at $50 per share, regardless of the current market price. This allows the trader to profit from the price difference between the strike and current market prices.

Similarly, with a put option, the trader can sell the underlying asset at the strike price if its market value falls below the strike price before the option expires. This provides a valuable tool for protecting against potential losses in a portfolio.

Understanding option pricing: The Greeks

Various factors influence option prices, collectively known as “the Greeks.” These Greeks include delta, gamma, theta, vega, and rho. Each Greek measures an option’s sensitivity to changes in factors such as the underlying asset’s price, time remaining until expiration, implied volatility, and interest rates.

Delta represents an option’s price sensitivity to changes in the underlying asset’s price. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 1 for call options and 0 to -1 for put options. For example, a delta of 0.5 implies that the option’s price will change by approximately $0.50 for each $1 change in the underlying asset’s price.

Gamma represents the rate of change of an option’s delta in response to changes in the underlying asset’s price. As the underlying asset’s price fluctuates, the option’s delta may change, affecting the option’s overall value and potential profits.

Theta measures the rate of time decay of an option. As an option approaches its expiration date, its time value diminishes. Theta quantifies how much an option’s value decreases with each passing day, emphasising the importance of timely execution for option strategies.

Vega measures the price sensitivity of an option to changes in implied volatility. Implied volatility represents the market’s anticipation of future price fluctuations. A higher vega value indicates that the option’s price is more responsive to volatility changes.

Rho assesses an option’s price sensitivity to changes in interest rates. Although changes in interest rates typically have a minor impact on option prices, rho is essential for options with more extended expiration periods or substantial interest rate shifts.

Common options trading strategies for intermediate traders

Here are some of the most common options trading strategies used by intermediate traders:

Covered call: A covered call is a conservative strategy that involves owning the underlying asset while simultaneously selling a call option against it. This strategy allows traders to collect premium income from selling the call option, which can help enhance returns from the underlying asset. The potential downside of this strategy is that the premium income provides only limited protection against potential losses in the underlying asset.


Protective put: The protective put strategy, also known as a married put, is designed to protect against potential downside risk in a portfolio. In this strategy, a trader purchases a put option for each share of their underlying asset. If the price of the asset declines, the put option provides a floor or minimum value for the asset, effectively limiting the trader’s losses.

All things considered

For intermediate traders looking to take their trading skills to the next level, understanding listed options is crucial. Options offer many strategies that can be utilised for speculation, hedging, income generation, and portfolio enhancement. By grasping the basics of options, including the differences between calls and puts, the Greeks that impact option pricing, and the expected trading strategies, intermediate traders can unlock the potential of options and expand their opportunities in the financial markets.

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