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Options Definitions: Open Interest

For a given option, the open interest is the number of open contracts - either puts or calls - that have not been exercised, closed or expired on a particular day. While each open transaction has a buyer and a seller, for the purposes of calculating the open interest, only one side of the contract is counted. Open interest increases when a buyer opens a put or call position and, vise versa, it decreases when a buyer sells/closes a put or call position.

For Example:
Time Trading Activity Open Interest
Jan 1st A buys 1 options and B sells 1 options contract 1
Jan 2nd C buys 5 options and D sells 5 options contracts 6
Jan 3rd A sell his 1 options and D buys 1 options contract 5
Jan 4th E buys 5 options from C who sells 5 options contracts 5

  • On Jan 1 A buys an option which leaves an open interest and also creates trading volume of 1.

  • On Jan 2 C and D create trading volume of 5 and there are also 5 more options left open.

  • On Jan 3 A takes an offsetting position and therefore open interest is reduced by 1, and trading volume is 1.

  • On Jan 4, E simply replaces C and therefore open interest does not change, trading volume increases by 5

Volume and open interest are important indicators in futures and equities markets.

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