Options Trading FAQs

What is options skew?

What is options skew?

Decoding Options Skew: Understanding Volatility Variations in the Options Market


Options trading provides investors with diverse strategies to navigate the ever-changing financial landscape. One essential concept that influences options pricing and trading decisions is 'options skew.' Options skew refers to the uneven distribution of implied volatility across different strike prices and expiration dates for a particular underlying asset. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of options skew, its causes, and how traders can leverage this valuable information in their options trading strategies.

Understanding Options Skew

Implied volatility (IV) is a critical component of options pricing and represents the market's expectation of the underlying asset's future price fluctuations. When options skew exists, it means that the IV varies among options contracts of the same underlying asset but with different strike prices or expiration dates.

Types of Options Skew

Vertical Skew:
Vertical skew, also known as term structure skew or time skew, occurs when the implied volatility changes across different expiration dates but with the same strike price. This type of skew is common in markets where investors anticipate significant short-term price movements, leading to higher IV in nearer-term options.

Horizontal Skew:
Horizontal skew, also called strike price skew or wing skew, arises when the implied volatility differs across various strike prices for the same expiration date. This skew is often seen in markets where investors have specific expectations for certain price levels, leading to higher IV in either deep in-the-money or out-of-the-money options.

Causes of Options Skew

Options skew can be influenced by various market factors, including:

Market Sentiment:
Optimistic or pessimistic market sentiment can impact options skew. For instance, during times of uncertainty or heightened market risks, investors may seek protection by purchasing more out-of-the-money puts, leading to higher IV in those options.

Market Events:
Major economic events, earnings releases, or geopolitical developments can influence options skew. Traders may anticipate significant price swings during these events, causing IV to increase in near-term options.

Supply and Demand Dynamics:
Changes in supply and demand for specific options contracts can also affect skew. For example, if there is higher demand for call options compared to put options, the IV of call options may rise, creating a call skew.

Leveraging Options Skew in Trading Strategies

Volatility Trading:
Options skew can present opportunities for volatility traders. For instance, traders can initiate strategies like calendar spreads or ratio spreads to capitalize on differences in IV between options with different expiration dates or strike prices.

Risk Management:
Understanding options skew helps traders manage risk more effectively. By identifying options contracts with higher IV, traders can make informed decisions on position sizing and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Directional Bias:
Traders with a specific directional bias can benefit from options skew by selecting options contracts that align with their outlook. For example, traders expecting a significant market move may opt for options with higher IV to take advantage of potential price swings.


Options skew is a vital concept that influences options pricing and trading strategies. The variations in implied volatility across different strike prices and expiration dates reflect the market's expectations and risk perceptions. Recognizing and analyzing options skew can provide valuable insights for traders, enabling them to construct more informed and adaptive options trading strategies. As with any options strategy, prudent risk management and a thorough understanding of market dynamics are essential for successful trading outcomes. By harnessing the power of options skew, traders can navigate the complexities of the options market with confidence, striving towards profitable results in an ever-changing financial landscape.

Next FAQ

How do I choose the right options brokerage platform?

Read More

Options Trading FAQs

1. What are stock options?

2. How do options contracts work?

3. What's the difference between call and put options?

4. What is an option premium?

5. How is option premium determined?

6. What are the key components of an options contract?

7. What is the expiration date of an options contract?

8. How does options trading differ from stock trading?

9. Can options be traded on any stock?

10. What is a strike price?

11. What are in-the-money, at-the-money, and out-of-the-money options?

12. What is an option chain?

13. How do you read an option chain?

14. What is implied volatility?

15. How does implied volatility affect options pricing?

16. What is historical volatility?

17. How do options make a profit?

18. What are covered calls and covered puts?

19. What is a naked option?

20. What are the risks associated with options trading?

21. How can I reduce risk when trading options?

22. What is the maximum loss when buying options?

23. What is the maximum loss when selling options?

24. What are the main strategies for options trading?

25. How do you calculate the breakeven point for an options trade?

26. What is the difference between American and European style options?

27. Can options be exercised before expiration?

28. How do dividends affect options contracts?

29. What is options assignment?

30. Can options be traded on margin?

31. What is options spread trading?

32. What are bull and bear spreads?

33. What is a straddle strategy?

34. What is a strangle strategy?

35. How are options taxed?

36. What is the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC)?

37. How do market makers influence options prices?

38. Can I roll over options contracts?

39. What is options skew?

40. How do I choose the right options brokerage platform?

41. Are options suitable for beginners?

42. How do I hedge using options?

43. What is the role of the Greek letters (Delta, Gamma, Theta, Vega, and Rho) in options trading?

44. What are LEAPS (Long-Term Equity Anticipation Securities)?

45. How do I create an options trading plan?

46. What are options on futures?

47. What are the different options trading order types?

48. How do I execute an options trade?

49. What are the advantages of options trading compared to other financial instruments?

50. What are some recommended books or resources to learn more about options trading?

Free Weekly Stock Picks