February 23, 2024

"Zero-day" for commodities

Investors can now trade commodities and a Treasury with a popular short-term options strategy.

The Nasdaq recently launched five zero-day options-based exchange-traded funds: United States Oil Fund (USO), United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG), SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), iShares Silver Trust (SLV) and iShares 20+ year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT).

“Zero-day to expiration” or “0DTE” refers to a trade which expires in less than a day. It has taken the options market by storm. The volume of S&P 500 zero-day contracts has increased at least 40%, versus 5% in 2016, according to data from the CBOE.

Not everyone is excited about the new ETF offerings, due to the complexity of the trade.

“I’m cautious about these products because I agree they’re problematic for undereducated retail investors that don’t know how to trade the options market,” Dave Nadig, VettaFi’s financial futurist, told CNBC’s “ETF Edge” on Monday.

The surge in activity surrounding zero-day options has some analysts worried about a negative impact on the market.

“I don’t think the tools themselves are inherently breaking the market,” Nadig said. “Like most market structure things, it’s not a problem until it is.”

Nadig also said he believes that most of the contracts are coming from hedge funds, not retail investors.

“This is largely institutions, hedge funds and day traders, using these as short-term leverage speculative vehicles with the extra added bonus that they never have to settle,” Nadig said. “I think most individual investors probably don’t have any business in here at all. They’re naturally very speculative because of the inherent leverage.”

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