Friday, July 17, 2009

Options Portend Currency Moves

Typically, only the savviest (or the most foolish) of forex traders dabble in currency options. Leverage is already so high (often exceeding 100:1) when trading forex directly, that the additional leverage gained from trading options can seem unnecessary. However, even if not trading options, you would be wise to at least pay heed to options prices. The reason is that movements in the options market often precedes movements in the forex markets.
To explain further, the premiums built into options contracts serve as a proxy for demand for those particular currencies. When premiums on call contracts, which give the holder the right to buy a particular currency at a fixed price, are unusually high, it signals a "risk reversal;" the currency may be overbought. To offer a practical example, call premiums on EUR/USD contracts are approaching a one-year high, which has led some analyst to speculate that a Dollar rally is just around the corner. MarketWatch reports:
"Whenever risk reversals hit critical levels, it indicates that everyone who wants to be long euros are already long and as a result, sentiment has hit an extreme." The last time euro/dollar risk reversals were that high….a U.S. dollar "relief rally" followed.
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