Even though the Calendar Spread may be used in numerous stock market environments, they operate the best in low volatility climates. While soaring volatility levels are wonderful for these trades, sinking volatility levels bring them a lot of pain.
Because calendar spreads generate profits the fastest at neutral to rising volatility levels, many calendar spread traders will wait until an underlyings volatility levels are either at the lowest level of their average range or at least until they are in the lower end of their average volatility levels before placing a trade.
By waiting until these levels are reached, the calendar spread trader is hoping to increase the odds that the volatility levels will either remain where they are and not sink down further (which could wind up hurting the trade), or that they will start to rise back up (which would put their position into good gains quickly).
Normally volatility levels sink as the market moves upward and rise as the market moves down. This is why many option traders will place calendar spreads when they have a bearish view on the market.
A favorite method for option income investors who have a bearish outlook is to put on a calendar spread just below where the market or stock is trading at. If the market or stock they are trading does move down as they believe it will, it will likely move with into the center profit zone of the calendar spread – while at the same time benefiting from the rising volatility that inevitably occurs when there is a bearish move. In such a scenario, a very good profit can be realized in an extremely short period of time.
This method can also be used with the double calendar spread trade , and in fact many option traders would argue that it would be preferred. Using a calendar spread could increase the probability of taking profit from the trade as it could be placed with a skew that would not only create a wider sweet spot inside the profit tent for the underlying to get caught in, it could also supply an extended profit tent coverage over the area where the underlying is trading at when the trade is first initiated, providing a safety net if it turns out that the traders speculation on direction turns out to be incorrect.
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