| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Dec 16 Friday marked "quadruple
witching day," the quarterly simultaneous expiration of U.S.
options and futures contracts, but ominous as it sounds,
traders may have little to fear on this day in terms of
While these days are still some of the biggest in terms of
volume in options and stocks, technological advances and the
availability of weekly options have robbed the day of some of
its power to cause stock market gyrations, market watchers say.
"It used to be a bigger deal than it is now," said Richard
Selvala, chief executive at Harvest Volatility Management LLC.
The concurrent expiration of many kinds of contracts tends
to boost trading volume as investors buy and sell them to
replace expiring positions. The day has often been viewed by
traders with anxiety due to its potential to rile stocks.
Recent trading history, however, suggests otherwise. On the
last 10 witching days, going back to June 2014, the S&P 500
has declined more than half a percentage point on only
"Technology now is so much more efficient. The ability to
know exactly your position and your risk is so much greater than
it was back in the day," said Selvala. "You had guys running
around with sheets of paper and traders did not know what their
positions were for hours."
The launch of weekly options in 2005 - contracts that expire
at the end of each week - have also helped spread the
"The listing of weekly options has been a factor because
there are now more expirations to choose from," said Fred Ruffy,
of options analytics firm Trade Alert.
Weekly options, especially for heavily traded names in the
options market such as SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust and Apple
Inc, are very popular. For instance, weeklies on Apple
accounted for three of the 10 busiest Apple options over the
last 10 days, per Trade Alert data.
The launch of VIX options in 2006 has also played a role,
Ruffy said. These contracts, which can be used to protect
against volatility, expire on Wednesdays and provide an
alternative to traders who might wish to avoid the rush of
VIX options account for about 4 percent of overall equity
By 12:01 p.m. ET (1701 UTC) on Friday, total options volume
was at 8.7 million contracts, nearly in-line with the pace of
trading over the last month, per Trade Alert data. The VIX was
down 3 percent to 12.40.
(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Dan Grebler)