The Truth about Stock Options and Options On Futures Trading

By: pcorp2006
Let's look at the basic facts about options trading before we go any further. Like any human endeavor, options trading is best described in very careful language so that there's no confusion about our meaning. First, let's take a look at exactly what an "option" is. An option refers to just that, the option to purchase certain stocks or certain commodity items by a certain date. This means you do not gain controlling interest in the stock or commodity until that date. For this reason, options can, and often do, expire worthless. There are two types of options contracts:

1) Contracts to buy blocks of stocks by a certain date
2) Commodity futures which are options to buy blocks of hard goods by a certain date

If you have options on 10,000 bushels of corn, whoever sold it to you cannot sell it to someone else until the expiration date of your contract has expired. In exchange for giving you this right, they wrote the contract and took money from you. If you don't exercise your options prior to the expiration date, they will expect full control of their corn again, and will sell it someone else. What makes options such fascinating instruments are these facts:

1) With options you can sell that which you don't own or ever plan on buying
2) You can buy something you don't ever plan on physically holding and sell it for a profit

Another great thing about options is their inherent flexibility: although you have the right to buy or sell a certain stock or commodity, the choice is yours. You're not forced to exercise your options. You can always sell your options contract to someone else. Many traders of commodities and options always sell the contracts only and have never taken physical possession of any underlying asset they've ever traded. The leverage in options gives you a chance to earn extremely high returns. These types of options we're describing are referred to as covered options. With covered options you actually plan on or do own the underlying asset that you purchase options contracts for. Uncovered options are the exact opposite. Like the word uncovered means exposed, uncovered or naked options are considered more dangerous, because you are merely speculating without having an ownership interest. You are exposed to the risk without the benefit of owning the asset.

Options trading involves a great deal of leverage in the form of margin loans to your trading account. All options trades are highly leveraged, so you need to add margin interest to your calculated costs when considering a career in trading options. Pricing and potential returns on options trading depend very much on real world circumstances. If you purchase corn futures, for instance, there are literally hundreds of variables that affect the price of the corn, and hence your investment. If a corn shortage is expected in a certain part of the world, your investment might hit big because the price of corn could rise dramatically. On the contrary, perhaps government subsidies have introduced a glut of corn into the world market. In that case, your investment might tumble. Futures contracts for commodities and options contracts on stocks are strictly based on guessing what events will happen in the future. Of course you'll always attempt to make as accurate as a guess as possible, but let's face facts: in this world unforeseen things can and do happen. For this reason, protect your downside, and only invest with money you can afford to lose. Options trading can be very profitable, but unsurpisingly it's also very risky.
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