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Open Interest


Open interest refers to the total number of outstanding derivative contracts, such as futures and options, that have not been settled. It indicates the market activity and liquidity of a particular contract. The higher the open interest, the easier it is to buy or sell options or futures contracts.


The phonetics of the keyword “Open Interest” is: /ˈoʊpən ˈɪntɹɪst/

Key Takeaways

Open Interest refers to the total number of outstanding derivative contracts, such as options or futures that have been, but not yet been settled. Here are three main takeaways about open interest:

  1. Measure of Market Activity: Open interest represents the total level of activity into the futures market. A rising open interest number indicates that the present trend is gaining momentum, while a decreasing open interest indicates a weakening trend.
  2. Insight into Market Direction: Increases or decreases in open interest can be used to confirm price action. A high open interest in a bull market shows that investors are expecting upward price movement, while high open interest in a bear market points to lower price levels.
  3. Liquidity Indicator: High open interest means greater market liquidity, thus a higher probability for orders to be executed quickly. Lower open interest might result in difficulty entering or exiting market positions at optimal prices.


Open Interest is a significant term in the field of business and finance as it reflects the total number of open or outstanding contracts in a particular market, that haven’t been settled. It provides necessary insights to investors and traders regarding the liquidity, market activity, and potential reversals in the price movement. A high level of open interest signifies an active market with a large number of participants, which leads to better price efficiency. Furthermore, changes in open interest can predict price trends. Therefore, understanding open interest helps market participants gauge market sentiment, manage risk, and make informed trading decisions.


Open Interest is primarily used to gauge the market’s liquidity and activity level. It serves as a critical indicator in financial markets, functioning as an accurate measure of the flow of money into a particular market. For example, when open interest in a futures contract is high, it suggests that the flow of money into that contract is significant. This hints at a well-liquidated market, which, in turn, makes it easier for traders to enter or exit positions without causing a significant shift in the price. Therefore, an increase in open interest represents improved liquidity and more activity, favoring large-volume traders.Additionally, open interest is used to determine whether money is flowing into or out of a contract and thus to infer the potential future trend of its price. The movement in open interest can be seen as a signal of the strength behind the price moves. For instance, when both price and open interest are increasing, it might suggest the arrival of new money to support the ongoing trend, potentially implying that the existing price trend is likely to continue. Therefore, traders and analysts often look at open interest with the price to confirm the strength of a trend, a process known as price-volume-open interest analysis. This approach helps gain a more in-depth insight about market trends and make more informed trading decisions.


1. Futures Trading: In the world of futures trading, open interest signifies the total number of contracts, whether long or short, that are yet to be settled. For example, if Trader A buys 5 futures contracts from Trader B who is the seller, the open interest of that particular futures product increases by 5.2. Options Trading: Open Interest is a common term used in options trading. For instance, if on a particular day in the stock market, 10 options contracts of company XYZ are bought, and none are sold, the open interest will be 10. If the next day, 5 more contracts are bought, and none are sold, the open interest for the options of company XYZ will increase to 15.3. Commodity Markets: Open interest concept is also used in commodity markets indicating the number of contracts that are active or open for a particular commodity. For example, if the open interest for wheat contracts in a particular month is high, that means many traders are interested or invested in that commodity’s futures, showing a trend or prediction about the price direction of that commodity in future.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Open Interest?

Open Interest refers to the total number of outstanding derivative contracts, such as options or futures, that have not been settled.

Does Open Interest relate to stocks?

While Open Interest does not directly refer to stocks, it does indicate the activity and liquidity of options or futures contracts of a particular stock.

How is Open Interest calculated?

Open Interest is calculated by adding all the contracts from opened trades and subtracting the ones from closed trades.

What does an increase in Open Interest mean?

An increase in Open Interest means that new money is coming into the market, suggesting that the current price trend should continue.

Can Open Interest decrease?

Yes, Open Interest can decrease when traders close out their positions.

How does Open Interest differ from trading volume?

Open Interest refers to the total number of contracts held by market participants at the end of the day, while volume refers to the total number of contracts traded during the trading day.

Is Open Interest a leading or lagging indicator?

Open Interest is generally considered a lagging indicator, providing information about the strength of the price move during the trend, rather than predicting future moves.

Can high Open Interest indicate a market reversal?

High open interest at market tops can be a bearish signal if the price drops, and likewise, high open interest at market bottoms can be a bullish signal if the price rises.

Does a zero Open Interest value mean no transactions have happened?

Not necessarily. Zero Open Interest means there are no contracts left open at the end of the day. All the contracts have either been offset or exercised.

How can I use Open Interest data in my trading?

Open Interest data can be used to gauge the market’s liquidity and activity. A rising open interest in a futures contract along with its price indicates bullishness, while a falling open interest may signal bearishness. However, these are general guidelines and results may vary based on other market conditions.

Related Finance Terms

  • Derivatives
  • Option Contracts
  • Volume
  • Settlement Price
  • Short Position

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