Introduction to Single Stock Futures

A single inventory future (SSF) is a futures contract between two events. The customer of the SSF, or the “lengthy” facet of the contract, guarantees to pay a specified value for 100 shares of a single inventory at a predetermined future date (the supply date). The vendor, who’s on the “brief” facet of the contract, guarantees to ship the inventory on the specified value on the supply date.

SSFs traded within the U.S. between 2002 and 2020, when the final U.S. trade to listing them, OneChicago, closed.

SSFs proceed to be traded in a number of abroad monetary markets, together with these in India, Spain, the U.Okay., and South Africa.

Key Takeaways

  • SSFs began buying and selling in the USA in 2002 after the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) of 2000.
  • The final trade to listing SSFs within the U.S. closed in 2020.
  • Like different futures contracts, SSFs can be utilized to hedge or speculate.
  • Every contract represents the fitting to purchase or promote 100 shares of the underlying inventory.
  • There’s a notable lack of buying and selling exercise and liquidity within the SSF market.

Historical past

Within the Nineteen Eighties, SSFs have been banned just because the U.S. Securities and Change Fee (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Buying and selling Fee (CFTC) could not come to an settlement on which regulatory physique would have authority over the apply.

Nevertheless, in 2000, President Invoice Clinton signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA). Beneath the brand new legislation, the SEC and the CFMA labored on a jurisdiction-sharing plan, and SSFs started buying and selling on November 8, 2002.

The Single Inventory Futures Contract

Every SSF contract is standardized and contains the next options:

  • Contract dimension: 100 shares of the underlying inventory
  • Expiration cycle: Usually quarterly (March, June, September, and December)
  • Minimal value fluctuation: 1 cent X 100 shares = $1
  • Final buying and selling day: Third Friday of the expiration month
  • Margin Requirement: Usually 20% of the inventory’s money worth

The contract phrases name for supply of shares of the inventory by the vendor at a specified future time, often called the expiration date. Nevertheless, most contracts are closed earlier than expiration. To get out of an open lengthy place, the investor merely takes an offsetting brief place.

Conversely, if an investor has offered a contract and needs to shut it out, shopping for the contract will offset or shut it out.

Making Sense of Margin

In an SSF contract, the margin deposit is extra of a superb religion deposit, which the brokerage agency holds towards the contract settlement. The margin requirement in an SSF applies to each consumers and sellers.

The 20% requirement represents the preliminary and upkeep requirement. In an SSF contract, the customer (lengthy) has not borrowed cash and pays no curiosity. On the identical time, the vendor (brief) has not borrowed inventory. The margin requirement for each is identical. The 20% is a federally mandated share, however the person brokerage home can require further funds.

The margin requirement for SSFs is steady. Every enterprise day, the dealer will calculate the margin requirement for every place. The investor is required to publish further margin funds if the account doesn’t meet the minimal margin requirement.


Suppose an investor is bullish on inventory Y. They buy a single September SSF contract on inventory Y at $30. Over the next week, inventory Y climbs to $36. At that time, the investor decides to promote the contract at $36 to offset the present (open) lengthy place. The full revenue on the commerce is $600 ($6 x 100 shares).

This instance is easy, however let’s study the commerce intently.

The preliminary margin requirement was solely $600 ($30 x 100 = $3,000 x 20% = $600). So the investor earned a 100% return on the margin deposit, illustrating the numerous quantity of leverage utilized in SSF buying and selling. In fact, leverage works each methods, which might make SSFs notably dangerous.

Let us take a look at one other instance, the place the investor is bearish on inventory Z. They resolve to promote an August SSF contract on inventory Z at $60. Inventory Z performs because the investor had guessed and drops to $50 in July. The investor offsets the brief place by shopping for an August SSF at $50. This represents a complete revenue of $1,000 on the commerce ($10 x 100 shares).

Once more, let’s study the investor’s return on the preliminary deposit. The full revenue clocked in at $1,000 on an preliminary margin requirement of $1,200 ($60 x 100 = $6,000 x 20% = $1,200). That interprets to a good-looking return of 83%.


An outline of SSFs would not be full with out mentioning the usage of these contracts to hedge a inventory place. To hedge an extended place in a inventory, an investor merely must promote an SSF contract on that exact same inventory. If the inventory falls in value, features within the SSF will work to offset the losses within the underlying inventory.

Nevertheless, that is solely a brief resolution as a result of the SSF will expire.

Let’s contemplate an investor who purchased 100 shares of inventory N at $30. In July, the inventory is buying and selling at $35. The investor is proud of the unrealized achieve of $5 per share however is anxious that the achieve could possibly be worn out in a single dangerous day. The investor needs to maintain the inventory a minimum of till September, although, with a purpose to obtain an upcoming dividend cost.

To hedge the lengthy place, the investor sells a $35 September SSF contract. Whether or not the inventory rises or falls, the investor has locked within the $5-per-share achieve. In August, the investor sells the inventory on the market value and buys again the SSF contract.

September Worth Worth of 100 Shares Acquire or Loss on SSF Web Worth
$30 $3,000 +$500 $3,500
$35 $3,500 $3,500
$40 $4,000 -$500 $3,500

Determine 1 . Monitoring the Positive aspects/Losses on Single Inventory Futures

Till the SSF expires in September, the investor can have a internet worth of the hedged place of $3,500. The draw back? Within the case that the inventory dramatically will increase, the investor continues to be locked in at $35 per share.

SSFs vs. Inventory Buying and selling

In comparison with buying and selling shares straight, SSFs present a couple of benefits:

  • Leverage: In comparison with shopping for inventory on margin, investing in SSFs is more cost effective. An investor can use leverage to manage extra inventory with a smaller money outlay. The margin on a inventory is often 50%.
  • Ease of shorting: Taking a brief place in SSFs is less complicated, might be less expensive, and could also be executed at any time (there are not any uptick guidelines).
  • Flexibility: SSF traders can use the devices to invest, hedge, or create unfold methods.

SSFs even have disadvantages. These embody:

  • Danger: An investor who’s lengthy on a inventory can solely lose what has been invested. In an SSF contract, there’s the danger of dropping considerably greater than the preliminary funding (margin deposit).
  • No stockholder privileges: The SSF proprietor has no voting rights and no rights to dividends.
  • Required vigilance: SSFs are investments that require traders to watch their positions extra intently than many wish to do. As a result of SSF accounts are marked to the market each enterprise day, there’s the chance that the brokerage agency may situation a margin name, requiring the investor to resolve whether or not to deposit further funds or to rapidly shut the place.

Whereas some merchants had excessive hopes for SSFs when OneChicago was launched in 2002, the contracts have by no means actually caught on with traders. Consequently, we see an absence of buying and selling exercise available in the market immediately.

Comparability with Fairness Choices

Investing in SSFs differs from investing in fairness choices contracts in a couple of key methods:

  • Lengthy choices place: The investor has the fitting, however not the duty, to buy or ship inventory when in an extended name or lengthy put place, respectively. In an extended SSF place, the investor is obligated to ship the inventory.
  • Motion of the market: Choices merchants use a mathematical issue, the delta, that measures the connection between the choices premium and the underlying inventory value. At instances, an choice contract’s worth might fluctuate independently of the inventory value. Against this, the SSF contract will rather more intently comply with the underlying inventory’s motion.
  • The worth of investing: When an choices investor takes an extended place, they pay a premium for the contract. The premium is commonly known as a losing asset and can lose worth over time. Then, at expiration, until the choices contract is within the cash, it’s nugatory and the investor has misplaced the complete premium. (Nevertheless, like single inventory futures, choices might be closed earlier than expiration.) SSFs require an preliminary margin deposit and a selected money upkeep degree.

The Backside Line

SSFs supply flexibility, higher leverage, and short-taking when in comparison with merely buying and selling within the underlying inventory. Nevertheless, potential traders in SSFs ought to rigorously study the danger/reward profile of those devices and ensure they’re appropriate for his or her private targets.

SSFs haven’t caught the flowery of merchants in comparison with another futures contracts, like these related to crude oil, gold, or the S&P 500 Index. The shortage of SSF buying and selling makes them so much much less liquid than the precise shares that they symbolize.

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