Futures-Trading Activity and Stock Price Volatility

Authors

  • HENDRIK BESSEMBINDER,

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    • Department of Finance, Arizona State University, and Department of Finance, University of Michigan, respectively. We thank Michael Barclay, Tony Greig, Gregg Jarrell, Jon Karpoff, Ann Kremer, Barry Schachter, G. William Schwert, Journal of Finance editor René Stulz, an anonymous Journal of Finance referee, and seminar participants at Rochester, Michigan, Arizona, Arizona State, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the 1990 Western Finance Association Meetings for valuable comments. Earlier drafts of this paper were titled “Futures trading, liquidity, and stock price volatility.” Seguin acknowledges funding from the T. Boone Pickens, Jr. research fellowship at the Managerial Economics Research Center.

  • PAUL J. SEGUIN

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    • Department of Finance, Arizona State University, and Department of Finance, University of Michigan, respectively. We thank Michael Barclay, Tony Greig, Gregg Jarrell, Jon Karpoff, Ann Kremer, Barry Schachter, G. William Schwert, Journal of Finance editor René Stulz, an anonymous Journal of Finance referee, and seminar participants at Rochester, Michigan, Arizona, Arizona State, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the 1990 Western Finance Association Meetings for valuable comments. Earlier drafts of this paper were titled “Futures trading, liquidity, and stock price volatility.” Seguin acknowledges funding from the T. Boone Pickens, Jr. research fellowship at the Managerial Economics Research Center.


ABSTRACT

We examine whether greater futures-trading activity (volume and open interest) is associated with greater equity volatility. We partition each trading activity series into expected and unexpected components, and document that while equity volatility covaries positively with unexpected futures-trading volume, it is negatively related to forecastable futures-trading activity. Further, though futures-trading activity is systematically related to the futures contract life cycle, we find no evidence of a relation between the futures life cycle and spot equity volatility. These findings are consistent with theories predicting that active futures markets enhance the liquidity and depth of the equity markets.

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