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US options volume falls below 2015 as August languishes

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Options volume in August totalled 322.7 million contracts, 4.5 per cent higher than July’s volume but 24 per cent lower than August 2015, according to TABB Options LiquidityMatrix (OLM).

In July and August 2016, traders swapped 631.6 million total contracts, the lowest two-month total since August 2012.
 
The S&P 500 Index fell 0.1 per cent in August, stalling at or around all-time highs as it closed within a 1.5 per cent high-to-low range during the month.
 
The CBOE VIX Index climbed 13 per cent, or 1.55 points, in the month, closing as high as 13.65 on Aug. 26 and as low as 11.34 on 19 August.
 
Options volume year-to-date is now lagging 2015’s totals through August, a discouraging sign for the industry after six straight months of year-over-year gains through June. Traders exchanged 2.69 billion contracts in 2016 through the end of last month, 2.9 per cent below volume in the same eight-month period last year.
 
Market quality in the listed options market eroded in August, despite the lack of stock-market turbulence. Average bid-ask spreads climbed to 37 cents, the second-highest monthly total since the beginning of 2015. At the same time, average trade size at the top of the book declined to 138 contracts, the smallest since November 2013.

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