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Bid and ask spreads in futures markets

Thomas Henker, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation examines a number of empirical issues that arise in the trading of equity index futures and in research conducted using high frequency futures market data. Both essays benefit from a data set unique to futures market research. The dissertation consists of two essays. The Bid and Ask spread of the FTSE-100 futures contract, presents evidence that bid-ask spreads of the FTSE-100 index futures market are wider than microstructure theory would predict because full point price quotes are systematically preferred over half point price quotes by market makers. The findings are even more pronounced for electronic trading in the automated pit trading (APT) session than during open outcry pit trading. Intraday patterns of spreads are presented, as well as, a spread estimation model that decomposes spreads into its components. A simple model allows the calculation of the total spread related costs of operating the FTSE-100 futures trading pit. Market Structure and the performance of Spread Estimation Techniques in Futures Markets uses transaction data from the same data set to estimate bid-ask spreads with several different estimation techniques. The estimation techniques covered are covariance estimators, high frequency spread estimators, and structural models. The different spread estimates are compared to the actually observed spreads, and reasons for performance differences of the individual estimators are explored. If applied on high frequency data, spread estimation methods are found to be sensitive to the data collection procedure as well as to differences in market structure.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Henker, Thomas, "Bid and ask spreads in futures markets" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9950160.