Option traders are often speaking another language. I want to help you understand how your option’s value is going to be affected by changes in the market. We can calculate how our option is going to react to these changes by understanding the Option Greeks. The Black-Scholes Model identifies 5 Option Greeks to help us forecast the value of our option (Delta, Gamma, Vega, Theta, and Rho). These Greek’s will help identify our option’s reaction to changes in the price of the underlying futures contract, time decay, volatility, and interest rate. In this article we are going to explore the Delta.
Delta is the measure of the degree to which an option is going to move relative to the underlying futures contract. In other words, it is a measurement tool to find out the speed the option value will change in relation to a full point move in the underlying futures contract.
For example let’s look at crude oil:
If my option has a delta of 0.50, this means that for every $1.00 move in the crude oil futures, my option will go up or down by $0.50 (1.00*0.5=0.50). In other words, my option’s value will fluctuate approximately half the rate of the actual futures contract. So if crude oil were to move $3.00, my option value would change by roughly $1.50.
The higher the delta, the more sensitive the option is going to be to the underlying futures contract. The options distance from the current market price, as well as the number of days left until expiration are two factors that will determine the options delta.
Call Option Delta
For call options, the delta can range from 0 to 1. A one delta would mean that the option is going to fluctuate tick for tick with the futures. A zero delta would mean that the options value is not going to be affected by the movement in the underlying futures contract. That being said, the deeper in-the-money an option is and the less amount of time the option has until expiration, the closer the delta is going to be to one. The further out of the money and the more time an option has until expiration, the closer the delta is going to be to zero. An at-the-money option will have a delta of around 0.50 because there is a 50% chance the option can move in-the-money, and a 50% chance the option can move out-the-money.
Put Option Delta
Put options, on the other hand, will have a negative delta, but the same rules apply. Deep in-the-money puts will have a delta closer to -1, and far out-the-money options will have a delta closer to 0. At-the-money puts will have a delta around -0.50.
Every trade begins with an idea. Whether you are hedging or speculating in the markets, understanding your positions delta will give you a clearer picture on how your trade is going to react to price fluctuations. Your delta, accompanied with the rest of the option Greek’s will help you more accurately forecast your options value and properly manage your position.
Options Risk Disclosure: An option on a commodity futures contract is a right, purchased for a certain price, to either buy or sell a commodity futures contract during a certain period of time for a fixed price. Although successful commodity options trading requires many of the same skills as does successful commodity futures trading, the risks involved are somewhat different. For example, if a customer buys an option (either to sell or purchase a futures contract or commodity), the customer will pay a “premium” representing the market value of the option. Unless the price of the futures contract underlying the options changes and it becomes profitable to exercise or offset the option before it expires, the customer’s account may lose the entire amount of such premium (together with the costs of commissions and fees incurred to purchase such options). Conversely, if a customer sells an option (either to sell or purchase a futures contract or commodity), the customer will be credited with the premium but will have to deposit margin due to its contingent liability to take or deliver the futures contract underlying the option in the event the option is exercised. The writer of the option is however at unlimited risk with respect to the call option written, and risk on the put option of the amount should the price of the futures contract drop to zero. Sellers of options are subject to the loss which occurs in the underlying futures position (less any premium received). The ability to trade in or exercise options may be restricted in the event that such trading on U.S. commodity exchanges is restricted by both the CFTC and such exchanges, and it has been at certain times in the past.