How Options Expiration Week Can Influence Futures

3 min readMay 15, 2024

As the clock ticks down to the next options expiration week, the anticipation builds among traders of all sizes. This is not just any week on the financial calendar — it’s a period that can shift the entire landscape of the major market stock index futures. Let’s dive into the details of options expiration week and the confluence known as triple witching.

Watch this video to learn why the price action in stock index futures during options expiration week might be explained by large commercial hedgers and traders in the options market. We also explore the relationship between interest rate policy and the behavior of the major market stock index futures. Watch now to learn more.

Additional topics discussed in this free livestream:

  • How options volume can help provide key trading levels
  • Why options expiration week is important to futures traders
  • Key data points and metrics to track during options expiration
  • How to track changes in volatility with the VIX

The Impact Of Options Expiration Week

Options expiration week refers to the final week before the expiration of various options contracts, including stock, index, and futures options. This week is often marked by increased volatility as traders and investors adjust or close their positions. The stakes are particularly high as the expiration date approaches and traders must act before the close on Friday.

During this week, the alignment of large options positions nearing their expiry tends to significantly impact the underlying stocks and indices. For example, if many options contracts are set to expire out of the money, there may be a rush to salvage any remaining value, which can cause abrupt price movements in stocks or indices linked to these options. On the other hand, if options are in the money, efforts to realize gains or manage losses can equally sway the market dynamics.

What Is Triple Witching?

Triple witching events occur four times a year — on the third Friday of March, June, September, and December — and refer to the simultaneous expiration of stock options, stock index futures, and stock index option contracts. These four months often see increased market activity (volume and volatility), amplified as traders rush to adjust and exit their positions.

Understanding these market mechanics is crucial for both seasoned investors and market novices. By keeping a keen eye on the calendar and preparing for the shifts associated with options expiration and triple witching weeks, market participants can better navigate the complexities of equity trading and harness potential opportunities that arise from these unique periods.

Understanding And Measuring Volatility With VIX

Another crucial trading concept to monitor during options expiration week is the Volatility Index, called the VIX. This index measures the market’s expectation of volatility based on S&P 500 Index options. It’s often called the “fear gauge,” because it reflects trader and market-maker sentiments and expectations for near-term market risk. During options expiration week, the VIX can provide valuable insights into how the trend in volatility is likely to affect the market.

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