Instead of options tables, many websites offer options chains or options strings.

You select a particular underlying instrument and can see a chain of all the available options to compare the prices for calls and puts, strike prices, and expiration months.

Also, you can choose whether to display all option strike prices or only those that are in-the-money, at-the-money, or out-of-money, or any combination of the three.

You can also select the expiration months to be displayed and whether to include LEAPS or not. In addition to price information for each contract, you’ll find its theoretical value, implied volatility, and a calculation for each of the Greeks.

What is an option chain?

The option chain is a matrix that shows open interest, premium, and average prices for the specific instrument in the particular series, together with information about which call or put strike prices are currently being traded. It lists every option contract, including put and call options for a specific asset.

The term “open interest” refers to traders’ interest during a specific strike price. At the end of the trading day, all contracts that were closed during the trading day are deducted from open interest, and all open contracts are added to open interest. High open interest means there are many open positions on a particular option, but it is not necessarily a sign of bullishness or bearishness.

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The stock price at which the investor purchases shares if an option is exercised is known as the strike price. Calls and puts are the standard divisions for options chains. Call contract buyers have the right to buy, while call contract sellers have the duty to sell. Likewise, put contract owners have the right to sell, while put contract sellers are obligated to buy. Contrary to an options series or cycle, which only lists the various strike prices or expiration dates, an options chain offers complete quotes and price information.

How to read the option chains?

The uppermost area of the option chain indicates the name of the underlying stock, its ticker symbol, and the primary exchange on which the underlying stock is listed. Below, you’ll find information about the underlying stock, including its current market price, net change up or down, the 52-week high and low, and the stock volume. Options statistics include the average daily options volume for the option class and the average open interest.

You can find the month, day, year of option expiration, and the number of days until expiration. In addition, you can find the symbology key for each available option series.

Options Chains

The option symbol column indicates the option symbol for calls and puts on the underlying stock. For example, for each strike price, the chain will display information for calls (C) and puts (P).

Bid indicates what buyers are willing to pay for the option, and ask indicates which sellers are willing to take for the option. Change measures the percentage change in the option’s price for the day. A positive number indicates a price increase, while a negative number indicates a decrease.

Volume is the current number of contracts traded for each option series during the trading day. Some option chains allow you to view only options with a certain daily volume. Open interest indicates the total number of open contracts outstanding. Implied volatility is the volatility percentage that produces the best fit for each option series.

What is bid and ask?

The bid is the price a buyer is willing to pay for an option, and the ask is the price a seller is willing to accept. Generally, the two prices are slightly different, and the gap between them is known as the spread. So how does that affect individual investors? When you buy or sell an option — or a stock — you’re possibly buying from and selling to a market maker. One role of market makers is to provide liquidity in the marketplace, making it easier to buy or sell one or more options without changing the market price. Market makers can profit by buying options contracts at the current bid price and selling them at the higher ask price. Without a change in the underlying stock price, they may make a profit from the spread of only a few cents per contract. But they may trade in high volume daily so that the small profits can add up.

As a rule of thumb, the more actively traded an option is, the smaller the spread will be. But the bid and ask spread for any particular option contract may vary on the different exchanges where the contract is listed. So option brokers focus on getting their customers the best execution price among the various exchanges where the option is traded.

Why is it essential to use an option chain?

To improve your investing decisions and increase your chances of success, learning how to understand options chains is a crucial skill. It is most often used in for comparing prospective gains from various positions. In addition, options chains are a common tool used by options traders and investors to illustrate an options contract’s risk and reward possibilities. An options chain consists of various agreements with special strike prices and expiration dates.

Users of Option Matrix can analyze and determine the points at which a low or high level of liquidity occurs. Usually, it restricts the traders’ ability to assess the depth and liquidity of particular strikes.

When you understand the options chain, you may enter the right contract at the right moment to ensure that you cover your current position or increase the value of your options contract in a single trade. Generally speaking, options chains serve as the basis of the options market. They are used to show all the options available for specific security and give investors pricing data and details on types (call/put), strike prices, expiration dates, bid/ask prices, and open interest.

How To Use Options Chains? by Inna Rosputnia

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