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Getting To Know The USO


Understanding oil options.


Are you thinking of trading USO options?

There are lots and lots of quirks in this pup, starting with the ETF itself, which doesn't perfectly track Texas Tea. Or specifically, West Texas Intermediate. The general gist is that USO owns futures, not physical oil (unlike GLD and SLV). USO seeks to capture the magnitude move in oil, but can (and does) deviate when they roll futures.

You can borrow USO, but that will actually cost you money. Rates vary, based on your clearing firm, but the board suggests about a 4-5% annual rate right now, which is subject to change at any time.

Remember, an easily "borrowable" stock actual can pay you a short stock rebate, and options price accordingly, thus put-call parity looks bizarre when you hit up USO. Rest assured though, it's correct. Valuation programs likely won't account for the negative carrying cost, and will tell you puts trade fat. They don't; at least in relation to calls on the same line.

Is oil the next bubble?
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Also, outer month volatility remains right near 52 week highs, and equal to the nearer month's. Ordinarily, that will strongly suggest you want to sell calendars and trade against the long gamma that gives you. But there are so many moving parts here, it's tough to compare this to a regular stock.

The bottom line is it's a great product, in my opinion. Just be careful as options and the ETF itself may not may not behave exactly as expected.

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Positions in USO, GLD, SLV.
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