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What are Options?

Options

Options contracts are instruments that give the holder of the instrument the right to buy or sell the underlying asset at a predetermined price. An option can be a 'call' option or a 'put' option.

A call option gives the buyer, the right to buy the asset at a given price. This 'given price' is called 'strike price'. It should be noted that while the holder of the call option has a right to demand sale of asset from the seller, the seller has only the obligation and not the right. For eg: if the buyer wants to buy the asset, the seller has to sell it. He does not have a right.

Similarly a 'put' option gives the buyer a right to sell the asset at the 'strike price' to the buyer. Here the buyer has the right to sell and the seller has the obligation to buy.

So in any options contract, the right to exercise the option is vested with the buyer of the contract. The seller of the contract has only the obligation and no right. As the seller of the contract bears the obligation, he is paid a price called as 'premium'. Therefore the price that is paid for buying an option contract is called as premium.

The buyer of a call option will not exercise his option (to buy) if, on expiry, the price of the asset in the spot market is less than the strike price of the call. For eg: A bought a call at a strike price of 500. On expiry the price of the asset is 450. A will not exercise his call. Because he can buy the same asset from the market at 450, rather than paying 500 to the seller of the option.

The buyer of a put option will not exercise his option (to sell) if, on expiry, the price of the asset in the spot market is more than the strike price of the call. For eg: B bought a put at a strike price of 600. On expiry the price of the asset is 619. A will not exercise his put option. Because he can sell the same asset in the market at 619, rather than giving it to the seller of the put option for 600.