Rho is used to determine how an options price changes with respect to underlying interest rates. Let's take a closer look at the option Greek rho and how it impacts options pricing in a rising interest rate environment.
What is Rho and what does it measure?
Rho is one of the options greeks, which measure the sensitivity of an options contract to changes in underlying conditions. Specifically, rho measures how an option contract’s value changes in relation to changes in interest rates.
Rho is the expected amount an options price should change based on a 1% move in the risk-free interest rate. The risk-free rate refers to the theoretical amount an investment would yield with zero risk. 3-month Treasury bills are typically used for the risk-free rate.
If you're considering buying a long-term option, known as LEAPS, changing rates may impact the option’s price, so you’ll need to consider rho if buying or selling long-dated options if you’re expecting interest rates to increase (or decrease).
How does an increase in interest rates affect the price of options contracts?
When interest rates rise, it impacts the value of an options contract. Call and put options are impacted differently.
Generally, rising interest rates tend to increase call option prices and lower put option prices, all else being equal.
However, several factors can influence the impact that rising interest rates have on options prices, including the type of option being traded and the underlying market conditions.
Overall, investors need to understand how increasing interest rates may affect the price of options contracts before making any trading decisions.
What implications do rising interest rates have for traders and investors in the options marketplaces?
The most common way to trade options is via standardized contracts on exchanges. The prices of these contracts are generally a function of the underlying asset, which in most cases is a stock or index.
When interest rates rise, it affects the required rate of return that investors demand from holding stocks. This, in turn, will affect the prices of options contracts.
Higher rates make it more expensive to hold certain investments as the opportunity cost of holding the underlying asset increases.
Investors must consider the opportunity cost of options compared to buying or selling stocks as interest rates rise.
For example, a long call option requires less capital than buying shares of stock. So, if you purchase a call option contract when interest rates are relatively high, the money you save not purchasing shares could be allocated to high yielding, fixed-income securities.
How can traders protect themselves against potential losses caused by increasing interest rates?
Traders can protect their portfolios from rising interest rates by diversifying their options strategies. Interest rates impact certain options strategies more than others.
As mentioned above, buying call options may be a better use of capital than purchasing stock in a high interest rate environment.
The further out the expiration date, the more significant the impact rising interest rates have on options prices, so options traders should be aware of how changes in interest rates can affect their portfolios and target strategies that will benefit from higher interest rates.