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Derivatives, such as futures or options, are financial contracts which derive their value from a spot price, which is called the “underlying”. For example, wheat farmers may wish to enter into a contract to sell their harvest at a future date to eliminate the risk of a change in prices by that date. Such a transaction would take place through a forward or futures market. This market is the “derivatives market”, and the prices of this market would be driven by the spot market price of wheat which is the “underlying”. The term “contracts” is often applied to denote the specific traded instrument, whether it is a derivative contract in wheat, gold or equity shares. The world over, derivatives are a key part of the fi nancial system. The most important contract types are futures and options, and the most important underlying markets are equity, treasury bills, commodities, foreign exchange, real estate etc.
In a forward contract, two parties agree to do a trade at some future date, at a stated price and quantity. No money changes hands at the time the deal is signed.
Forward contracting is very valuable in hedging and speculation. The classic hedging application would be that of a wheat farmer forward -selling his harvest at a known price in order to eliminate price risk. Conversely, a bread factory may want to buy bread forward in order to assist production planning without the risk of price fl uctuations. If a speculator has information or analysis which forecasts an upturn in a price, then he can go long on the forward market instead of the cash market. The speculator would go long on the forward, wait for the price to rise, and then take a reversing transaction making a profit.
Forward markets worldwide are affl icted by several problems:
In the fi rst two of these, the basic problem is that of too much fl exibility and generality. The forward market is like the real estate market in that any two persons can form contracts against each other. This often makes them design terms of the deal which are very convenient in that specifi c situation for the specifi c parties, but makes the contracts nontradeable if more participants are involved. Also the “phone market” here is unlike the centralisation of price discovery that is obtained on an exchange, resulting in an illiquid market place for forward markets. Counterparty risk in forward markets is a simple idea: when one of the two sides of the transaction chooses to declare bankruptcy, the other suffers. Forward markets have one basic issue: the larger the time period over which the forward contract is open, the larger are the potential price movements, and hence the larger is the counter- party risk. Even when forward markets trade standardized contracts, and hence avoid the problem of illiquidity, the counterparty risk remains a very real problem.
Futures markets were designed to solve all the three problems (listed in Question 4) of forward markets. Futures markets are exactly like forward markets in terms of basic economics. However, contracts are standardised and trading is centralized (on a stock exchange). There is no counterparty risk (thanks to the institution of a clearing corporation which becomes counterparty to both sides of each transaction and guarantees the trade). In futures markets, unlike in forward markets, increasing the time to expiration does not increase the counter party risk. Futures markets are highly liquid as compared to the forward markets.
There are two types of derivatives instruments traded on NSE; namely Futures and Options :
Futures : A futures contract is an agreement between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a certain time in the future at a certain price. All the futures contracts are settled in cash at NSE.
Options : An Option is a contract which gives the right, but not an obligation, to buy or sell the underlying at a stated date and at a stated price. While a buyer of an option pays the premium and buys the right to exercise his option, the writer of an option is the one who receives the option premium and therefore obliged to sell/buy the asset if the buyer exercises it on him. Options are of two types - Calls and Puts options : “Calls” give the buyer the right but not the obligation to buy a given quantity of the underlying asset, at a given price on or before a given future date. “Puts” give the buyer the right, but not the obligation to sell a given quantity of underlying asset at a given price on or before a given future date. All the options contracts are settled in cash. Further the Options are classifi ed based on type of exercise. At present the Exercise style can be European or American. American Option - American options are options contracts that can be exercised at any time upto the expiration date. Options on individual securities available at NSE are American type of options.
European Options - European options are options that can be exercised only on the expiration date. All index options traded at NSE are European Options. Options contracts like futures are Cash settled at NSE
Futures and options contracts are traded on Indices and on Single stocks. The derivatives trading at NSE commenced with futures on the Nifty 50 in June 2000. Subsequently, various other products were introduced and presently futures and options contracts on the following products are available at NSE: 1. Indices : Nifty 50, CNX IT Index, Bank Nifty Index, CNX Nifty Junior, CNX 100 , Nifty Midcap 50, Mini Nifty and Long dated Options contracts on Nifty 50. 2. Single stocks - 228
Futures trading will be of interest to those who wish to:
Options trading will be of interest to those who wish to :
Benefi ts of trading in Futures and Options :
An investor can trade the ‘entire stock market’ by buying index futures instead of buying individual securities with the effi ciency of a mutual fund.
The advantages of trading in Index Futures are:
Futures/ Options contracts in both index as well as stocks can be bought and sold through the trading members of NSE. Some of the trading members also provide the internet facility to trade in the futures and options market. You are required to open an account with one of the trading members and complete the related formalities which include signing of member-constituent agreement, Know Your Client (KYC) form and risk disclosure document. The trading member will allot to you an unique client identifi cation number. To begin trading, you must deposit cash and/or other collaterals with your trading member as may be stipulated by him
It is the last day on which the contracts expire. Futures and Options contracts expire on the last Thursday of the expiry month. If the last Thursday is a trading holiday, the contracts expire on the previous trading day. For E.g. The January 2008 contracts mature on January 31, 2008.
Futures and Options contracts have a maximum of 3-month trading cycle -the near month (one), the next month (two) and the far month (three), except for the Long dated Options contracts. New contracts are introduced on the trading day following the expiry of the near month contracts. The new contracts are introduced for a three month duration. This way, at any point in time, there will be 3 contracts available for trading in the market (for each security) i.e., one near month, one mid month and one far month duration respectively. For example on January 26,2008 there would be three month contracts i.e. Contracts expiring on January 31,2008, February 28, 2008 and March 27, 2008. On expiration date i.e January 31,2008, new contracts having maturity of April 24,2008 would be introduced for trading.
In- the- money options (ITM): An in-the-money option is an option that would lead to positive cash fl ow to the holder if it were exercised immediately. A Call option is said to be in-the-money when the current price stands at a level higher than the strike price. If the Spot price is much higher than the strike price, a Call is said to be deep in-the-money option. In the case of a Put, the put is in-the-money if the Spot price is below the strike price.
At-the-money-option (ATM):An at-the money option is an option that would lead to zero cash fl ow if it were exercised immediately. An option on the index is said to be “at-the-money” when the current price equals the strike price.
Out-of-the-money-option (OTM):An out-of- the-money Option is an option that would lead to negative cash fl ow if it were exercised immediately. A Call option is out-of-the-money when the current price stands at a level which is less than the strike price. If the current price is much lower than the strike price the call is said to be deep out-of-the money. In case of a Put, the Put is said to be out-of-money if current price is above the strike price.
Yes. Margins are computed and collected on-line, real time on a portfolio basis at the client level. Members are required to collect the margin upfront from the client & report the same to the Exchange.
All the Futures and Options contracts are settled in cash on a daily basis and at the expiry or exercise of the respective contracts as the case may be. Clients/Trading Members are not required to hold any stock of the underlying for dealing in the Futures / Options market. All out of the money and at the money option contracts of the near month maturity expire worthless on the expiration date.
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