Understanding Options Chain: A Comprehensive Guide to Option Chain Analysis

  • 18-Aug-2023
  • 2 mins read

In the financial markets, the traders and investors comprehending the intricacies of option trading is essential. One crucial tool in this realm is the “Options Chain.”

It provides a comprehensive listing of all available options contracts for specific security, providing vital data such as strike prices and expiration dates. By delving into option chain analysis, traders can gain valuable insights into the market and its potential price movements.

This post will cover option chain analysis basics and its importance in trading decisions.

What is an Option Chain?

An option chain is also called an Option Matrix. It lists all available option contracts, encompassing puts and calls for a specific security. It is a valuable tool for traders, providing essential data for the following day’s trading.

Skilled users can decipher price movement directions and identify high or low liquidity points.

The Option Matrix offers critical metrics such as the following:

  • Executed price
  • Real-time bid
  • Ask prices
  • Bid quantities
  • Ask quantities

All these metrics allow traders to evaluate depth and liquidity for specific strikes. This information empowers traders to make well-informed decisions and gauge market sentiment effectively.

Components of an Options Chain

Traders analyse the option chain using four key columns: Net Change, Bid, Ask, and Last Price to assess the current market situation.

  • Last Trading Price: The Last Trading Price column shows the most recent price at which the option contract was traded. It represents the last executed trade price for that specific option. Traders often look at this column to get an idea of the latest market activity and the price at which recent transactions occurred.
  • Bid: The Bid column displays the current highest price that a buyer is willing to pay for the option. It represents the demand from buyers and is the price at which traders can sell (if they are willing to accept the highest bid price). Traders pay attention to the bid price because it indicates the current market sentiment among buyers.
  • Ask: The Ask column shows the current lowest price at which a seller is willing to sell the option. It represents the supply from sellers and is the price at which traders can buy the option (if they are willing to pay the lowest ask price). Traders focus on the asking price to understand the current market sentiment among sellers.
  • Net Change: The Net Change column shows the option’s price change from the previous trading day. It shows the asset’s direction and change since the last trade. A positive net change means the option’s price increased from the previous day’s close, while a negative net change means it decreased. A flat net change means the option’s price hasn’t changed from the previous day.

How to Read an Options Chain

Reading an options chain might be scary, but a step-by-step method can help you understand it. Options chains list all stock or asset options contracts by strike price and expiration date. Read an options chain step-by-step:

Step 1: Locate the Options Chain

Visit a financial website or a brokerage platform that provides options data. Most financial websites offer options chains for free, and many brokerages include them as part of their trading platforms.

Step 2: Identify the Underlying Asset

The options chain usually relates to stocks, indexes and commodities. Before beginning, identify your asset.

Step 3: Understand the Columns

The options chain will have several columns with different pieces of information. The exact layout may vary slightly depending on the platform you use, but the main columns are usually as follows:

Strike Price (or Exercise Price)

  • Call Symbol
  • Put Symbol
  • Last Trading Price
  • Change Price
  • Bid Price
  • Ask Price
  • Volume
  • Open Interest
  • Expiration Date

Step 4: Filter Expiration Dates

Options contracts with particular expiration dates may suit your trading approach and time horizon. You may want short-term options that expire in a few weeks or long-term options that last several months.

Step 5: Analyse Strike Prices

Strike prices are another crucial factor in options trading. If you exercise the option, the strike price you specify will determine the price you can purchase or sell the underlying asset. Examine the strike prices and their relationship to the underlying asset’s price.

Step 6: Review Bid-Ask Spread

The bid-ask spread is the difference between a buyer’s highest bid and a seller’s lowest ask. Traders like small bid-ask spreads because they lower entry and exit costs.

Step 7: Check Volume and Open Interest

Higher trading volume indicates greater liquidity and can lead to tighter bid-ask spreads. Open interest shows the number of outstanding contracts, giving you an idea of the option’s popularity and activity.

Step 8: Understand Option Symbols

Option symbols may look complex, but they follow a standardised format. For example, a call option symbol may look like “AAPL210729C00450000,” where “AAPL” is the stock symbol, “21” represents the year of expiration (2021), “07” is the month of expiration (July), “29” is the day of expiration, “C” indicates it’s a call option, and “00450000” is the strike price.

Significance of NSE Option Chain

The NSE (National Stock Exchange) Options Chain is important for various market participants, including investors and traders. Some of its key significances are:

  • Provides insights into ITM and OTM options.
  • Assesses depth and liquidity of specific strikes.
  • Helps find option premiums for various maturity dates and strike prices.
  • Acts as a warning for index breakouts or sharp moves.
  • Offers macro-level indications for index options and potent stock-level indicators for stock options.
  • Enables a better understanding of economic straddles and strangulations at different strike prices.

Hence, this tool is useful for both option and cash market traders.


Comprehending the options chain is crucial for successful trading. The option chain chart is a valuable tool, providing a snapshot of available options contracts and their respective prices, expirations, and strike prices.

This insight empowers investors to make informed decisions, manage risk effectively, and capitalise on market opportunities.

By mastering the intricacies of the option chain chart, traders can enhance their strategies and navigate the complexities of the options market with confidence.


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