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An Anatomy of Futures Returns: Risk Premiums and Trading Strategies

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Author Info

  • Frans A. de Roon
  • Rob W. J. van den Goorbergh
  • Theo E. Nijman

Abstract

This paper analyzes trading strategies which capture the various risk premiums that have been distinguished in futures markets. On the basis of a simple decomposition of futures returns, we show that the return on a short-term futures contract measures the spot-futures premium, while spreading strategies isolate the term premiums. Using a broad cross-section of futures markets and delivery horizons, we examine the components of futures risk premiums by means of passive trading strategies and active trading strategies which intend to exploit the predictable variation in futures returns. We find that passive strategies which capture the spot-futures premium do not yield abnormal returns, in contrast to passive spreading strategies which isolate the term premiums. The term structure of futures yields has strong explanatory power for both spot and term premiums, which can be exploited using active trading strategies that go long in low-yield markets and short in high-yield markets. The profitability of these yield-based trading strategies is not due to systematic risk. Furthermore, we find that spreading returns are predictable by net hedge demand observed in the past, which can be exploited by active trading. Finally, there is momentum in futures markets, but momentum strategies do not outperform benchmark portfolios.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department in its series WO Research Memoranda (discontinued) with number 757.

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Length: 14 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dnb:wormem:757

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Keywords: Predictability; futures term structure; hedging pressure;

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References

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  1. Bessembinder, Hendrik & Chan, Kalok, 1992. "Time-varying risk premia and forecastable returns in futures markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 169-193, October.
  2. Jegadeesh, Narasimhan & Titman, Sheridan, 1993. " Returns to Buying Winners and Selling Losers: Implications for Stock Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(1), pages 65-91, March.
  3. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
  4. Jegadeesh, Narasimhan, 1990. " Evidence of Predictable Behavior of Security Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(3), pages 881-98, July.
  5. Narasimhan Jegadeesh, 2001. "Profitability of Momentum Strategies: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(2), pages 699-720, 04.
  6. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1995. " Size and Book-to-Market Factors in Earnings and Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(1), pages 131-55, March.
  7. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1992. " The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 427-65, June.
  8. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  9. de Roon, Frans A. & Nijman, Theo E. & Veld, Chris, 1998. "Pricing Term Structure Risk in Futures Markets," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(01), pages 139-157, March.
  10. Jagannathan, Ravi, 1985. " An Investigation of Commodity Futures Prices Using the Consumption-based Intertemporal Capital Asset Pricing Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(1), pages 175-91, March.
  11. Dusak, Katherine, 1973. "Futures Trading and Investor Returns: An Investigation of Commodity Market Risk Premiums," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(6), pages 1387-1406, Nov.-Dec..
  12. Bessembinder, Hendrik, et al, 1995. " Mean Reversion in Equilibrium Asset Prices: Evidence from the Futures Term Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(1), pages 361-75, March.
  13. Bessembinder, Hendrik, 1992. "Systematic Risk, Hedging Pressure, and Risk Premiums in Futures Markets," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(4), pages 637-67.
  14. Frans A. de Roon & Theo E. Nijman & Chris Veld, 2000. "Hedging Pressure Effects in Futures Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1437-1456, 06.
  15. Bailey, Warren & Chang, K C, 1993. " Macroeconomic Influences and the Variability of the Commodity Futures Basis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(2), pages 555-73, June.
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