Futures and Options Glossary H - L


Haircut: In computing the value of assets for purposes of capital, segregation, or margin requirements, a percentage reduction from the stated value (e.g., book value or market value) to account for possible declines in value that may occur before assets can be liquidated.

Hand Held Terminal: A small computer terminal used by floor brokers or floor traders on an exchange to record trade information and transmit that information to the clearing organization.

Hardening: (1) Describes a price which is gradually stabilizing; (2) a term indicating a slowly advancing market.

Head and Shoulders: In technical analysis, a chart formation that resembles a human head and shoulders and is generally considered to be predictive of a price reversal. A head and shoulders top (which is considered predictive of a price decline) consists of a high price, a decline to a support level, a rally to a higher price than the previous high price, a second decline to the support level, and a weaker rally to about the level of the first high price. The reverse (upside-down) formation is called a head and shoulders bottom (which is considered predictive of a price rally).

Heavy: A market in which prices are demonstrating either an inability to advance or a slight tendency to decline.

Hedge Exemption: An exemption from speculative position limits for bona fide hedgers and certain other persons who meet the requirements of exchange and CFTC rules.

Hedge Fund: A private investment fund or pool that trades and invests in various assets such as securities, commodities, currency, and derivatives on behalf of its clients, typically wealthy individuals. Some commodity pool operators operate hedge funds.

Hedge Ratio: Ratio of the value of futures contracts purchased or sold to the value of the cash commodity being hedged, a computation necessary to minimize basis risk.

Hedging: Taking a position in a futures market opposite to a position held in the cash market to minimize the risk of financial loss from an adverse price change; or a purchase or sale of futures as a temporary substitute for a cash transaction that will occur later. One can hedge either a long cash market position (e.g., one owns the cash commodity) or a short cash market position (e.g., one plans on buying the cash commodity in the future).

Henry Hub: A natural gas pipeline hub in Louisiana that serves as the delivery point for New York Mercantile Exchange natural gas futures contracts and often serves as a benchmark for wholesale natural gas prices across the U.S.

Historical Volatility: A statistical measure of the volatility of a futures contract, security, or other instrument over a specified number of past trading days.

Hog-Corn Ratio: See Feed Ratio.

Horizontal Spread (also called Time Spread or Calendar Spread): An option spread involving the simultaneous purchase and sale of options of the same class and strike prices but different expiration dates. See Diagonal Spread, Vertical Spread.

Hybrid Instruments: Financial instruments that possess, in varying combinations, characteristics of forward contracts, futures contracts, option contracts, debt instruments, bank depository interests, and other interests. Certain hybrid instruments are exempt from CFTC regulation.


IB: See Introducing Broker.

Implied Repo Rate: The rate of return that can be obtained from selling a debt instrument futures contract and simultaneously buying a bond or note deliverable against that futures contract with borrowed funds. The bond or note with the highest implied repo rate is cheapest to deliver.

Implied Volatility: The volatility of a futures contract, security, or other instrument as implied by the prices of an option on that instrument, calculated using an options pricing model.

Index Arbitrage: The simultaneous purchase (sale) of stock index futures and the sale (purchase) of some or all of the component stocks that make up the particular stock index to profit from sufficiently large intermarket spreads between the futures contract and the index itself. Also see Arbitrage, Program Trading.

Indirect Bucketing: Also referred to as indirect trading against. Refers to when a floor broker effectively trades opposite his customer in a pair of non-competitive transactions by buying (selling) opposite an accommodating trader to fill a customer order and by selling (buying) for his personal account opposite the same accommodating trader. The accommodating trader assists the floor broker by making it appear that the customer traded opposite him rather than opposite the floor broker.

Inflation-Indexed Debt Instrument: Generally a debt instrument (such as a bond or note) on which the payments are adjusted for inflation and deflation. In a typical inflation-indexed instrument, the principal amount is adjusted monthly based on an inflation index such as the Consumer Price Index.

Initial Deposit: See Initial Margin.

Initial Margin: Customers' funds put up as security for a guarantee of contract fulfillment at the time a futures market position is established. See Original Margin.

In Position: Refers to a commodity located where it can readily be moved to another point or delivered on a futures contract. Commodities not so situated are "out of position." Soybeans in Mississippi are out of position for delivery in Chicago, but in position for export shipment from the Gulf of Mexico.

In Sight: The amount of a particular commodity that arrives at terminal or central locations in or near producing areas. When a commodity is "in sight," it is inferred that reasonably prompt delivery can be made; the quantity and quality also become known factors rather than estimates.

Instrument: A tradable asset such as a commodity, security, or derivative, or an index or value that underlies a derivative or could underlie a derivative.

Intercommodity Spread: A spread in which the long and short legs are in two different but generally related commodity markets. Also called an intermarket spread. See Spread.

Interdelivery Spread: A spread involving two different months of the same commodity. Also called an intracommodity spread. See Spread.

Interest Rate Futures: Futures contracts traded on fixed income securities such as U.S. Treasury issues, or based on the levels of specified interest rates such as LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate). Currency is excluded from this category, even though interest rates are a factor in currency values.

Interest Rate Swap: A swap in which the two counterparties agree to exchange interest rate flows. Typically, one party agrees to pay a fixed rate on a specified series of payment dates and the other party pays a floating rate that may be based on LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) on those payment dates. The interest rates are paid on a specified principal amount called the notional principal.

Intermarket Spread: See Spread and Intercommodity Spread.

Intermediary: A person who acts on behalf of another person in connection with futures trading, such as a futures commission merchant, introducing broker, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, or associated person.

International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA): A New York-based group of major international swaps dealers, that publishes the Code of Standard Wording, Assumptions and Provisions for Swaps, or Swaps Code, for U.S. dollar interest rate swaps as well as standard master interest rate, credit, and currency swap agreements and definitions for use in connection with the creation and trading of swaps.

In-The-Money: A term used to describe an option contract that has a positive value if exercised. A call with a strike price of $390 on gold trading at $400 is in-the-money 10 dollars. See Intrinsic Value.

Intracommodity Spread: See Spread and Interdelivery Spread.

Intrinsic Value: A measure of the value of an option or a warrant if immediately exercised, that is, the extent to which it is in-the-money. The amount by which the current price for the underlying commodity or futures contract is above the strike price of a call option or below the strike price of a put option for the commodity or futures contract.

Introducing Broker (IB): A person (other than a person registered as an associated person of a futures commission merchant) who is engaged in soliciting or in accepting orders for the purchase or sale of any commodity for future delivery on an exchange who does not accept any money, securities, or property to margin, guarantee, or secure any trades or contracts that result therefrom.

Inverted Market: A futures market in which the nearer months are selling at prices higher than the more distant months; a market displaying "inverse carrying charges," characteristic of markets with supply shortages. See Backwardation.

Invisible Supply: Uncounted stocks of a commodity in the hands of wholesalers, manufacturers, and producers that cannot be identified accurately; stocks outside commercial channels but theoretically available to the market. See Visible Supply.

Invoice Price: The price fixed by the clearing house at which deliveries on futures are invoiced—generally the price at which the futures contract is settled when deliveries are made. Also called Delivery Price.

ISDA: See International Swaps and Derivatives Association.

Job Lot: A form of contract having a smaller unit of trading than is featured in a regular contract.

Kerb Trading or Dealing: See Curb Trading.


Large Order Execution (LOX) Procedures: Rules in place at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that authorize a member firm that receives a large order from an initiating party to solicit counterparty interest off the exchange floor prior to open execution of the order in the pit and that provide for special surveillance procedures. The parties determine a maximum quantity and an "intended execution price." Subsequently, the initiating party's order quantity is exposed to the pit; any bids (or offers) up to and including those at the intended execution price are hit (acceptable). The unexecuted balance is then crossed with the contraside trader found using the LOX procedures.

Large Traders: A large trader is one who holds or controls a position in any one future or in any one option expiration series of a commodity on any one exchange equaling or exceeding the exchange or CFTC-specified reporting level.

Last Notice Day: The final day on which notices of intent to deliver on futures contracts may be issued.

Last Trading Day: Day on which trading ceases for the maturing (current) delivery month.

Leaps: Long-dated, exchange-traded options. Stands for “Long-term Equity Anticipation Securities.”

Leverage: The ability to control large dollar amounts of a commodity or security with a comparatively small amount of capital.

LIBOR Rate: The London Interbank Offered Rate. The rate of interest at which banks borrow funds from other banks, in marketable size, in the London interbank market. LIBOR rates are disseminated by the British Bankers Association. Some interest rate futures contracts, including Eurodollar futures, are cash settled based on LIBOR.

Licensed Warehouse: A warehouse approved by an exchange from which a commodity may be delivered on a futures contract. See Regular Warehouse.

Life of Contract: Period between the beginning of trading in a particular futures contract and the expiration of trading. In some cases, this phrase denotes the period already passed in which trading has already occurred. For example, "The life-of-contract high so far is $2.50." Same as life of delivery or life of the future.

Limit Up or Limit Down: The maximum price advance or decline from the previous day's settlement price permitted during one trading session, as fixed by the rules of an exchange. In some futures contracts, the limit may be expanded or removed during a trading session a specified period of time after the contract is locked limit. See Daily Price Limit.

Limit Move: See Locked Limit.

Limit Only: The definite price stated by a customer to a broker restricting the execution of an order to buy for not more than, or to sell for not less than, the stated price.

Limit Order: An order in which the customer specifies a minimum sale price or maximum purchase price, as contrasted with a market order, which implies that the order should be filled as soon as possible at the market price.

Liquidation: The closing out of a long position. The term is sometimes used to denote closing out a short position, but this is more often referred to as covering. See Cover, Offset.

Liquid Market: A market in which selling and buying can be accomplished with minimal effect on price.

Local: An individual with exchange trading privileges who trades for his own account, traditionally on an exchange floor, and whose activities provide market liquidity. See Floor Trader, E-Local.

Location: A Delivery Point for a futures contract.

Locked-In: A hedged position that cannot be lifted without offsetting both sides of the hedge (spread). See Hedging. Also refers to being caught in a limit price move.

Locked Limit: A price that has advanced or declined the permissible limit during one trading session, as fixed by the rules of an exchange. Also called Limit Move.

London Gold Market: Refers to the dealers who set (fix) the gold price in London. See Gold Fixing.

Long: (1) One who has bought a futures contract to establish a market position; (2) a market position that obligates the holder to take delivery; (3) one who owns an inventory of commodities. See Short.

Long Hedge: See Buying Hedge.

Long the Basis: A person or firm that has bought the spot commodity and hedged with a sale of futures is said to be long the basis.

Lookalike Option: An over-the-counter option that is cash settled based on the settlement price of a similar exchange-traded futures contract on a specified trading day.

Lookalike Swap: An over-the-counter swap that is cash settled based on the settlement price of a similar exchange-traded futures contract on a specified trading day.

Lookback Option: An exotic option whose payoff depends on the minimum or maximum price of the underlying asset during some portion of the life of the option.

Lot: A unit of trading. See Even Lot, Job Lot, and Round Lot.

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