Rolling contracts? Futures? What types of spreadbets are available?

In financial spread betting there are various types of spread betting types -:

  • Rolling Spread Bets: These have the tightest spreads and don’t have a definite expiry date. Trades will automatically rollover each night subject to a small overnight financing fee. Rolling spread bets are best suited for day or short-term traders and if you buy and sell intraday without holding the position overnight you will not be charged the financing fee.
  • Monthly Futures Spread Bets: Monthly futures spreadbets come with wider spreads than the rolling spreadbets. Given the fixed pre-determined monthly expiry date, no overnight charges are applicable and contracts can be rolled over to the subsequent month. You can of course also close your spreadbets before expiry date. Short to medium-term speculators tend to open for those monthly futures spreadbets as they suit their trading timeframe.
  • Quarterly Futures Spread Bets: Medium to long-term traders usually prefer going for quarterly futures spread bet, namely for their fixed quarterly expiry date. Again, positions can be closed before expiry date or rolled over to the next quarter. Quarterly futures tend to come with the widest spreads (due to the long expiry timeframes) but they don’t require an overnight financing charge.
  • Day Trade Spread Bets: These are only available at City Index which makes them available for the top 20 most liquid UK equity markets. Day trade spreadbets come with 20% tighter spreads and 50% lower margins than standard markets. Day trade spreadbets are possible from 08:00 till the end of the trading session at 16:28 without the capacity to roll over the trade to the next day.


Rolling Spread Bets, Monthly Futures and Quarterly Futures


I own shares in RCG as opposed to having a spread bet position on them at the moment and am currently considering an spread bet to supplement my current shareholding. It is 11th January and I can currently buy BUY RC GROUP AT 86.80p. A September contract is a better and more flexible option than a March contract and the difference in the spread is only 0.36 of a point. The reason for this is that one can never determine the timing of any share price move and you only have circa 10 weeks before March expiry whereas there is circa 36 weeks before September expiry. If RCG does not move up above your entry price before March expiry then you will crystallize a loss whether you close out or rollover. On a September contract you have another 6 months to go before expiry and therefore much greater flexibility.

Note: If you are planning to be onboard a few days then rolling spread bets make sense, otherwise go with quarterlies or whatever. This is because if you intend to run bets for longer than around 20 days or so quarterlies would still probably be the cheaper option than rolling daily contracts. The cost of a quarterly spread on a fairly liquid stock equivalent to a 2-3K trade is usually less than the average online broker fee, and not inclusive of stamp duty – especially if you allow for the existing spread of buying in the market.

What are ‘rolling share’ bets?

Rolling Share bets play an important role in spread betting. They’re relatively new, but they’re a great cost saving solution for short and medium term trading. Let’s learn where they fit into your spread betting techniques.

Rolling Share bets also known as ‘daily share bets’. They’re usually a daily bet that’s automatically rolled over to the next trading day. The major difference between trading the stock market and spread betting is that in spread betting you don’t actually own the share, you just bet on the performance of the share prices. When you make a rolling share trade, you’re not owning physical shares.

Rolling Share trade

Consider Marks and Spencer’s share which is trading near 346-346.5p. A spread betting company would issue the respective rolling bet at 345.7-346.8p, building in a little spread – which is how it makes money.

Option A
If you are bearish on the M&S stocks, you would sell it at 345.7p for £10 per point.

Option B
If you are bullish on the M&S stocks, you would buy it at 346.8p for £10 per point.

Case I
Since the prices have settled higher at 351p your bearish view on the stock has gone wrong and results in a loss of £53 ((351 – 345.7) x £10). Your selling position is then reopened for the next trading day at the mid-price of 351p for the same stake (£10).

Case II
As a buyer of M&S, your view that prices will rally has gone right giving you a profit of £42 ((351 – 346.8) x £10). Your buying position is then re-opened for the next trading day at the mid-price (351p) for the same stake (£10).

On Wednesday the M&S share prices have weakened lower and were hovering near 336.7-337.8p. If you haven’t closed your position earlier on Tuesday, it would be automatically rolled over the next day i.e. today. Below mentioned are the scenarios possible when a rollover has happened.

Case I
Now that you are carrying you position forward, the stock price has moved in your favour; you have the choice to square it off by buying it at 337.8p or carrying it forward for the next trading day. Squaring off would give you a profit of £132, the difference between the new buying price 337.8p and Tuesday’s selling price ((351-337.8)*£10).

Case II
You were wrong to rollover your position. Stock price has moved against you and has settled at 337.8p, giving you a loss of £143, the difference between the new buying price 337.8p and Tuesday’s selling price ((351-337.8)* £10).  You can liquidate your current position or carry it forward for the next day.

This goes on until the all the money in your account gets exhausted or you square off your positions.

Major Advantages of Rolling Share Bets

Designed keeping in mind the virtues of short-term traders, daily bets are intended to run over a position for only a short period. The rolling share bets are supposed to have significant advantages over a quarterly bet.

A couple of them are listed below:

  • Compared to quarterly bet, dealing spread of daily bets is cheaper by up to 40%.
  • There’s no expiry date on rolling share bets. You have the freedom to open a position for the midterm – say, 12 months – so that you don’t have to roll over the position at each quarterly expiry. It will continue to run on until you close it.