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Market volatility and the demand for hedging in stock index futures

Eric Chang, Ray Chou () and Edward F. Nelling

Journal of Futures Markets, 2000, vol. 20, issue 2, 105-125

Abstract: This study examines the relation between stock market volatility and the demand for hedging in S&P 500 stock index futures contracts. Open interest is used as a proxy for hedging demand. The analysis employs unique data that identify separately the open interest of large hedgers, large speculators, and smaller traders. Volatility estimates are decomposed into expected and unexpected components, to assess whether traders’ reactions to volatility depend upon its predictability. Results indicate that daily open interest for hedgers increases when unexpected volatility increases. Increases in unexpected volatility may cause hedgers to raise their estimates of future expected volatility, and hence increase their demand for hedging. Open interest of speculators is not related to expected volatility, and is only weakly related to unexpected volatility. The increase in the participation of hedgers in periods of higher volatility is significantly larger than the increase in the participation of speculators. The results suggest that increases in stock market volatility increase the demand for hedging. © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Jrl Fut Mark 20: 105–125, 2000

Date: 2000
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