Equity options

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Equity options are options on shares of an individual common stock.

Trading in equity options was first transacted solely in the over-the-counter market, but with the Chicago Board Options Exchange's (CBOE) founding in 1973, equity options became exchange-traded (listed) for the first time. Today, equity options are traded globally on numerous exchanges.

During 2006, total equity options volume in the U.S. reached 1.84 billion contracts, surpassing the 1.37 total equity contracts traded in 2005, a 34.7 percent increase.[1]

In contrast to the U.S. futures markets where traditionally one market has dominated the trading in a particular product, trading in equity options in the U.S. is a democratic system. Options exchanges can list duplicate equity options, and trading in these options are fungible. Because all U.S. options exchange trades are cleared centrally by the Options Clearing Corporation OCC, a trade initiated at one options exchange can be offset at another exchange, based on the best available price in the market.