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InvestHub.com's
Finance Dictionary and Glossary of Investment Terms

index arbitrage  

Definition 1.

A strategy designed to profit from temporary discrepancies between the prices of the stocks comprising an index and the price of a futures contract on that index. By buying either the stocks or the futures contract and selling the other, an investor can sometimes exploit market inefficiency for a profit. Like all arbitrage opportunities, index arbitrage opportunities disappear rapidly once the opportunity becomes well-known and many investors act on it. Index arbitrage can involve large transaction costs because of the need to simultaneously buy and sell many different stocks and futures, and so only large money managers are usually able to profit from index arbitrage. In addition, sophisticated computer programs are needed to keep track of the large number of stocks and futures involved, which makes this a very difficult trading strategy for individuals.
 

Definition 2.

An investment strategy that attempts to profit from the differences between actual and theoretical futures prices of the same stock index. This is done by simultaneously buying (or selling) a stock index future while selling (or buying) the stocks in that index.
 

Definition 3.

An investment/trading strategy that exploits divergences between actual and theoretical futures prices. An example is the simultaneous buying (selling) of stock index futures (i.e., S&P 500) while selling (buying) the underlying stocks of that index, capturing as profit the temporarily inflated basis between these two baskets. Often, the point at which profitability exists is expressed at the block call as the number of points the future must be over or under the underlying basket for an arbitrage opportunity to exist. See: Program trading.
 
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