Valuation of American Futures Options: Theory and Empirical Tests



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    • Associate Professor of Finance, University of Alberta and Visiting Associate Professor of Finance, University of Chicago. This research was supported by the Finance Research Foundation of Canada. Comments and suggestions by Fred D. Arditti, Warren Bailey, Giovanni Barone-Adesi, Bruce Cooil, Theodore E. Day, Thomas S. Y. Ho, Hans R. Stoll, and a referee and an Associate Editor of this Journal are gratefully acknowledged.


This paper reviews the theory of futures option pricing and tests the valuation principles on transaction prices from the S&P 500 equity futures option market. The American futures option valuation equations are shown to generate mispricing errors which are systematically related to the degree the option is in-the-money and to the option's time to expiration. The models are also shown to generate abnormal risk-adjusted rates of return after transaction costs. The joint hypothesis that the American futures option pricing models are correctly specified and that the S&P 500 futures option market is efficient is refuted, at least for the sample period January 28, 1983 through December 30, 1983.