Investing with options - Gold optionality Investing with options - Gold optionality Investing with options - Gold optionality

Investing with options - Gold optionality

Options 10 minutes to read
Koen Hoorelbeke

Options Strategist

Summary:  This article provides an in-depth guide on gold options trading, covering the benefits of capital efficiency and strategic diversity, while emphasizing the importance of risk management and offering practical strategies for various market sentiments.

Options are complex, high-risk products and require knowledge, investment experience and, in many applications, high risk acceptance. We recommend that before you invest in options, you inform yourself well about the operation and risks.

Investing with options: Gold optionality


Amid the latest financial insights, the gold market has taken the spotlight, demonstrating its enduring role in diversifying investment portfolios.

Acknowledging the comprehensive analysis by our strategy team on the recent rally (see links below), this piece builds upon their findings by delving into the dynamic world of gold options.

Beyond traditional investment routes, options offer a dimensional strategy to both seasoned and new investors, enhancing their gold market engagement. This article aims to unveil the multifaceted approaches to gold options trading, equipping you with the necessary insights to navigate this lustrous asset class with confidence.

Important note: the strategies and examples provided in this article are purely for educational purposes. They are intended to assist in shaping your thought process and should not be replicated or implemented without careful consideration. Every investor or trader must conduct their own due diligence and take into account their unique financial situation, risk tolerance, and investment objectives before making any decisions. Remember, investing in the stock market carries risk, and it's crucial to make informed decisions.

Efficient Use of Capital with Gold-Related Options

The allure of gold extends beyond its physical gleam to its utility in financial markets. Opting for gold-related options can be an efficient use of capital, granting traders the potential for profit while employing less capital than would be required for spot gold or ETFs. Here are some reasons options can be a strategic tool in your gold trading approach:

  • Capital Efficiency: Options can control the same amount of gold for a fraction of the cost, offering a cost-effective method of entering the gold market.
  • Strategic Diversity: They allow for a multitude of strategies, such as hedging against other investments, generating income through premium collection, or capitalizing on market predictions.
  • Downside Risk Management: Purchasing options can often define and limit risk to the premium paid, providing peace of mind and clarity on potential losses.
  • Flexibility: Options can be tailored to various market views and can benefit from market movement in any direction, including times when gold prices are stagnant.
  • Enhanced Potential Returns: By using less capital to achieve a similar exposure to gold's price movements, options can lead to higher returns on capital compared to a direct investment in gold or gold ETFs, should the market move favorably.

Each of these aspects underscores the practicality of options within the gold market, offering traders and investors a way to participate in the potential growth of gold with calculated risk and reduced capital outlay.

Understanding Your Options in Gold Trading: A Comparative Snapshot

The chart included here illustrates the price movements of four key instruments tied to gold markets: GLD, GDX, Gold futures, and the XAUUSD forex pair. Each chart shows the gold price trend, yet each has unique characteristics and enough trading volume to make option trading feasible.

  • GLD ETF: Mirrors the performance of gold, offering straightforward access for those looking to reflect the actual metal's price dynamics.
  • GDX ETF: Taps into the gold mining sector, offering exposure to the broader influences impacting gold production and miner profitability.
  • Gold Futures (/GCxx): Suits those looking for a leveraged position closely tracking spot gold prices, with substantial contract sizes and precision.
  • XAUUSD: Captures gold’s performance against the U.S. dollar, serving those familiar with forex markets and seeking exposure to currency fluctuations alongside gold pricing.

While numerous other ETFs and derivatives are available for gold exposure, the chosen four stand out for their high liquidity, which is essential when trading options. This high level of market activity ensures that options can be bought and sold with minimal slippage, crucial for efficient trade execution. Whether your strategy calls for a direct play on the price of gold, a stake in the mining sector, leverage through futures, or a forex pairing, these instruments provide a solid foundation for your trading needs.

Choosing the Right Gold Option: Pros and Cons

Investors have several avenues to consider when looking to trade or invest in gold using options. Each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages that cater to different investment styles and objectives. Understanding these can guide you to the option that best aligns with your financial goals.

GLD ETF Options:

One etf represents about 1/10th of one ounce of gold, so 1 option contract on GLD represents 100 shares of the etf, which is about 10 ounce of gold.

  • Pros: Tightly correlated with gold prices, widely available, and typically exhibit lower volatility.
  • Cons: Restricted to US market hours and could have lower leverage, alongside inbuilt management fees.

GDX ETF Options:

GDX invests in the stocks of gold mining companies such as Newmont Corporation, Barrick Gold, and Franco-Nevada, and thus is not directly linked to the gold-price.

  • Pros: Offer leveraged exposure to the gold mining sector, which can lead to outsized gains relative to gold.
  • Cons: Higher volatility influenced by company-specific risks and limited trading hours.

Gold Futures (/GC) Options:

1 Gold future represents 100 ounces of gold. 1 option contract represents 1 gold future, thus 100 ounces of gold.

  • Pros: High leverage and nearly around-the-clock trading provide a strong tie to spot gold prices.
  • Cons: Can pose a higher risk of loss and might be complex for less experienced traders.

XAUUSD Options:

1 XAU represents the price of 1 ounce of gold in USD. Because of the flexibility of FX options, you choose the size of the notional of 1 option contract. By default it's usually is 100, but can easily be adjusted to be smaller or bigger.
  • Pros:
    • Trading flexibility across global forex markets 24/5, with the ability to capitalize on currency and gold price changes.
    • European style options, so no risk of early assignment and possibility of cash-settlement.
  • Cons: Increased complexity from dealing with dual market influences and sophisticated global economic factors.
Chart showing the performance of gold in the various forex pairs.

Gold Options: Example Strategies Based on Market Sentiment

In this section, we provide a framework for utilizing options in gold trading without delving into specific strategies. Instead, we offer broad strategies as a foundation for investors to build upon, accommodating varying levels of risk tolerance and market perspectives. Whether you're bullish, bearish, or neutral on gold, these thought-starters are designed to stimulate tailored strategy development for engaging with the gold market.

  • Bullish on Gold:
    • Long calls or debit call spreads on GLD for direct market upswings.
    • Debit call spreads on GDX, leveraging sector-specific growth.
    • Long calls on /GC futures, utilizing leverage for upward movements.
    • Long XAUUSD positions, capitalizing on gold's strength against the dollar.
  • Neutral on Gold:
    • Covered calls on GLD, generating income amidst stability.
    • Iron condors on GDX, benefiting from range-bound markets.
    • Selling strangles on /GC, profiting from limited price action.
    • Butterfly spreads in XAUUSD for income within specific ranges.
  • Bearish on Gold:
    • Long puts on GLD to speculate on or hedge against a decline.
    • Bear put spreads on GDX to manage costs while betting on downturns.
    • Long puts on /GC futures for direct exposure to price drops.
    • Short positions in XAUUSD to exploit gold weakening against the dollar.

These strategies offer a starting point, encouraging further exploration and refinement based on individual risk preferences and market analysis.

Accessing Gold Options on Our Platforms

For investors looking to apply the strategies discussed, our platform provides comprehensive access to gold options trading. This section guides you through the seamless process of finding and executing options trades, from GLD ETF options to sophisticated XAUUSD forex pair strategies. With user-friendly interfaces and robust tools, our platform ensures that whether you're bullish, bearish, or neutral on gold, implementing your chosen strategy is straightforward.

Accessing a diverse range of gold trading instruments on our platform is straightforward. Take gold futures as an example: simply enter "gold" in the search bar, and you'll be presented with a variety of instruments related to gold. The platform’s search results offer quick access to gold futures, among other instruments, clearly listing their contract months and types. This feature demonstrates our platform's commitment to providing a user-friendly trading experience, allowing both novice and seasoned traders to find and trade gold-related options with ease.

Finding and trading options for the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD) on our platform is a simple process. As demonstrated in the screenshot, a quick search for "GLD" yields a comprehensive list of available GLD-related trading instruments. This includes the ETF itself and an array of options contracts. This search functionality is designed to enable users—novice or experienced—to efficiently navigate to their desired gold-related instruments and execute trades, leveraging our platform's robust infrastructure.

Our platform simplifies the execution of complex gold trading strategies. For instance, the XAUUSD pair — accessible with a quick search — opens up a world of strategic trading possibilities. The screenshot guides users through setting up an options strategy, here a vertical spread, by selecting the desired options and defining the trade's parameters, such as strike prices and expiration dates. The platform displays the potential outcomes graphically, laying out the risk and reward at a glance, as well as the net premium paid or received. This intuitive setup process underscores our platform’s capability to cater to strategic trade constructions efficiently.

Conclusion: Harnessing Gold's Potential Through Options

In this exploration of gold options, we've navigated the prospects of GLD, GDX, /GC, and XAUUSD, uncovering the tactical advantages each provides. Our platform's intuitive search and strategy tools enable you to execute trades from a spectrum of straightforward to complex, aligning with your market sentiment and strategy preference. Whether you're bullish, bearish, or neutral, we provide the instruments and support to help you maneuver through the nuances of gold options trading. As the market evolves, our platform remains your steadfast ally, offering a seamless interface to implement your investment vision. Take the next step: explore, strategize, and engage with the world of gold options today.

For continuous insights and updates on market/options strategies, interact with me/follow my social media account on Threads.

Previous "Investing with options" articles: 

Previous episodes of the "Saxo Options Talk" podcast

Previous "Volatility reports": 

Previous "What are your options" articles: 

Related articles:

Options are complex, high-risk products and require knowledge, investment experience and, in many applications, high risk acceptance. We recommend that before you invest in options, you inform yourself well about the operation and risks. In Saxo Bank's Terms of Use you will find more information on this in the Important Information Options, Futures, Margin and Deficit Procedure. You can also consult the Essential Information Document of the option you want to invest in on Saxo Bank's website.


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