Studies on stock index futures pricing : a UK perspective
There has been considerable interest among market participants, market regulators and academics in the pricing of stock index futures contracts. Academic research in this area has been motivated by several considerations. First, the utility of these contracts for risk allocation and price discovery depends on the efficiency with which they are priced relative to the underlying index. Second, it has been widely believed that they have adverse impact on price dynamics in the stock market. Third, and most important, stock index futures offer the possibility of directly studying the economics of arbitrage in the context of market microstructure. This dissertation extends the theoretical framework on stock index futures pricing in two directions. First, within the static cost of carry framework, it generalises the forward pricing formula by allowing for cash market settlement procedures. Second, it shows that in the presence of arbitrage related transaction costs, the time series of stock index futures "mispricing" can be modelled as a threshold autoregressive (TAR) process, a piecewise linear autoregressive process in which the process parameters are path dependent. The TAR model is potentially attractive for many financial applications and this dissertation appears to be the first use of the TAR model in finance. This dissertation also provides substantial and significant new empirical evidence relevant to the theoretical issues involved. Inter-alia, it analyses several important aspects not adequately examined in past research, and it utilises the unique microstructural features of the London stock market to explore several major theoretical issues. The empirical analysis is based mainly on about four years of "time and sales" transactions data from the London International Financial Futures Exchange together with synchronous hourly cash index data.