W. Jin, J. Livnat, and Y. Zhang: Option Prices Leading Equity Prices: Do Option Traders Have an Information Advantage?

January 10, 2012

Recent evidence shows that option volatility skews and volatility spreads between call and put options predict equity returns. This study investigates whether such predictive ability is driven by option traders’ information advantage. We examine the predictive ability of volatility skews and volatility spreads around significant information events including earnings announcements, other firm-specific information events, and events that trigger significant market reactions. Consistent with option traders having an information advantage relative to equity traders before information events, we find that the option measures immediately before these events have higher predictive ability for short-term event returns than they do in a more dated window or before a randomly selected pseudo-event.