By Terry Flanagan

#OIC2018 = OptImistiC

Options market participants can be excused for kicking up their (Hanweck-provided) heels a little at the 2018 Options Industry Conference, which runs May 2-4 at Amelia Island, Florida.

Following a largely unexpected and wholly unwanted stagnation in trading that persisted for much of this decade, options volumes surged nearly 30% in the first four months of 2018, driven by a sharp rise in equity-market volatility. That has meant brisk business for the the market makers who handle options trades, the exchanges that execute trades, and the technology providers that are the behind-the-scenes enablers of the market.   

“There is a feeling of renewed enthusiasm and an upbeat energy,” said Matt Simon, Markets Media Group head of strategy and #OIC2018 delegate. “Having perfect weather doesn’t hurt either,” he said, citing mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s with low humidity.

Aside from the rising volume tide lifting all boats, Simon cited three trends picked up in informal conversations: (1) technology providers are doing well because market participants are outsourcing more; (2) non-U.S. markets are strong, and more non-U.S. firms are looking to get into (or expand in) the U.S.; and (3) buy-side firms are keeping data providers busy as their data needs increase.  

The Exchange Leaders panel drilled down into specific areas such as strike prices, venue choice, and liquidity, Simon said.

The ‘fireside chat’ featured Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman and OCC CEO Craig Donohue.

Gary Katz, Co-Founder of International Securities Exchange and a pioneer in electronic options trading, was honored.

There was plenty of outdoor time, which conference delegates said may have come at the expense of indoor panel attendance.

And of course there was the obligatory shout-out to event sponsors.

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