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How do I determine monthly, weekly and quarterly options?


In the beginning days of our company, everything was a monthly option. Then came end of the year options, then quarterlys, then weeklies, then Monday and Wedneday.  We used the exchange column to mark which type it was when it was easy to tell between weekly and monthly options.  Now for SPX/SPXW especially, we have expiration for every day except Tuesday and Thursday. As time passes, it would not be surprising to have daily options on SPX. In 2003 we had 1 expiration date per month. Twelve dates for the whole year. In 2019, we had 162 different expiration dates. The 2019 trading year had 252 trading days. 65% of the days are an expiration date. It became too complex to mark the exchange column. Conflicts arose. For instance the fourth Friday in March, June, September, December, were they to be marked as a weekly option or a quarterly option?

So then we get the question, “How do I determine which one is a monthly option?”.

So what is the easiest answer for this question? We have figured out an easy way to get a list of the traditional 3rd Friday/Saturday of the month options. This involves finding optionable symbols that exist through the entire history starting in 2002, and have never had any weekly or quarterly options in their history (up to now). As of 2020, these symbols only have monthly options and exist from 2002:  ALL, BKS, ESV, GIS, and ZION. There are others, but these are the ones with the most volume. You could write a SQL query like this “select distinct expiration from (tablename) where underlying=’ALL'” and this will give you a list of the traditional monthly expiration dates.

You will notice the following. Originally, monthly options expired on the Saturday following the the third Friday of the month. This changed in February 2015 when they are listed to expire on Friday (except Good Friday).

Another alternative to this problem is to forget labels. When back testing, your plan might be to find short term trades. So do you care if you use an option labeled “weekly/monthly/quarterly” ? If your testing date is in the middle of the month, do you care if the option is the weekly, monthly, or quarterly option? Some weekly options begin trading five weeks before they expire. You would be looking for options that are getting ready to expire, not if they are a weekly or quarterly option.

A rule might be: Find options that expire < 30 days, and expire >10 days, that have an openinterest > 300 and a delta < 0.20 and bid>0.10.

You would find options expiring in about three weeks that have some liquidity that you might want to sell.

If you really have to insist on only monthly options, you could add the phrase, “and day>=15 and day<=22”. Or more elaborately, you could create an external list of monthly dates and restrict your search to those dates.

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