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What is Underlying Asset? Best Detailed Guide For Beginners 2022

What is underlying asset
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An asset that affects a derivative instrument’s performance or value is an underlying asset in the Indian stock markets. They comprise currencies, interest rates, equities, debt securities and bonds.

Study underlying assets to understand how they function and what they can provide you as an investor.

What Is An Underlying Asset?

The actual financial asset or instrument a financial derivative is based on is the underlying asset in the investment world. As a result, the value of the financial derivative is determined by the value of the underlying asset. Simply put, a derivative is a financial instrument or security that is derived from another financial asset or security.

Where they are traded is one feature that separates actual financial assets apart from derivatives. In contrast to financial derivatives, which are typically traded solely on specialist exchanges like futures trading exchanges, privately, or in over-the-counter markets, underlying assets are almost always available for trading in the cash, or spot, markets.

A crucial factor in determining a derivative’s price is the underlying price, current market price, or spot price. The last transaction price of the underlying security is known as the underlying price, or CMP, which frequently corresponds to the underlying asset’s genuine value or market price.

Types Of Underlying Assets

There are various sorts, or classes, of underlying assets, and each has special qualities that impact the nature and structure of the derivatives related to it. They play a key role in investment banking.

For instance, various underlying asset classes are exposed to various kinds of financial risk. Commodities and stocks are vulnerable to market risk and overall economic risk. Default risk and interest rate risk are the risks that can affect bonds and other debt instruments. Interest rate risk and political risk are factors that can affect currencies.

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The list of underlying assets and the risks attached to them can be seen below.

  • Stocks: Another word for shares is stocks that are traded through stock exchanges. Since a stock’s price is influenced by both fundamental considerations and market forces such as supply and demand, it is subject to market risk, balance sheet risk, and general economic risk concerns.
  • Indices: Indexes include the Nifty50 index. Both market risk and overall economic risk apply to these. The value of an underlying index is also influenced by the supply and demand market forces.
  • Currency: The term “currency” refers to the legal tender used in many different nations around the world, such as the rupee (), euro (€), and others. These are vulnerable to sovereign debt, geopolitical, and interest rate risk.
  • Bonds: A financial instrument used to lend money, bonds are a sort of debt. They are exposed to counterparty, interest rate, and default risks.
  • Commodities: Perishable foods, livestock, and precious metals like gold, silver, and others are all examples of commodities. Since the market forces of supply and demand determine the price of commodities, they are also vulnerable to market risk and broader economic risk.

What Are Some Of Examples An Underlying Asset?

What Are Some Of Examples An Underlying Asset?

The stock itself is the underlying asset in situations involving stock options. For instance, the underlying asset in a stock option to buy 1000 shares of Company A at $10 per share is Company A’s stock. Up to expiration time, the option’s value is determined by the underlying asset. Before the contract expires, the underlying asset’s value could change, which would impact the option’s value. Traders can determine whether it is worthwhile to exercise an option based on the underlying asset’s value at any given time.

A market index like the S&P 500 or a currency could alternatively be the underlying asset. In the case of stock indices, the common stocks that make up the stock market index serve as the underlying asset.

How Do Underlying Assets Work?

A derivative’s underlying security and its derivative are directly related. A derivative security’s price changes are intimately correlated with those of the underlying asset.

There is a wide variety of potential underlying assets. Bonds and stocks are typical examples. Foreign currencies and commodities can also be considered underlying assets. Futures contracts are used by some investors who trade derivatives to reduce risk. An investor can secure a price by entering into a futures contract.

The trader’s profit or loss depends on whether the potential value is higher or lower than the locked-in price.

Investors who intend to trade derivatives, such as futures or options contracts, must have a solid understanding of the underlying assets. Beginner investors shouldn’t engage in derivatives trading because it can be difficult and result in significant losses.

However, the additional leverage they attain is what draws risk-averse investors to the derivatives market. Leverage is substantially higher in the derivatives markets. Your ability to make money in the derivatives market depends on your understanding of how the markets will change.

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Options As An Underlying Asset?

Financial derivatives are sometimes categorised as either lock or option derivatives. An agreement between the parties that creates and enters into a contract is effectively locked in by a lock derivative, such as a forward contract. In other words, once a contract is made, its terms are binding on all parties for the duration of the agreement.

For instance, if two parties enter into a currency forward contract, they are required to abide by the exchange rate set forth in the agreement, regardless of any changes to the exchange rate that might take place in the cash markets while the contract is in force.

As opposed to a forward contract, which binds the parties to a specific agreement, an option derivative, such as a stock option or commodities option, offers the option holder the ability to carry out a market transaction if they so choose, but they are not required to do so. This approach involves a call option for a specified future date.

Call options are the derivatives contracts in which you have rights but not the obligation to buy the option on the strike price.

Bottom Line

The assets that affect a derivative security’s value are known as underlying assets. The value of derivative security often rises and falls in tandem with the value of its underlying asset. Underlying assets might be anything from equities to gold to cryptocurrencies to wheat.

Understanding how market conditions will affect the value of underlying assets is essential when investing in the derivatives market.


What are examples of underlying assets?

The prime examples of underlying assets are stocks, bonds, indices, forex currency pairs, and commodities. Investment risks like counterparty or investment risk vary according to the asset class. 

What is underlying in finance?

Underlying means the assets that are needed for the execution of a contract. Derivative contracts, futures contracts and indices can be underlying assets. Underlying asset supports derivatives contract and other financial markets.

What is an underlying investment?

Underlying investment refers to the exchange-traded funds and other products that are placed in financial instruments and investment opportunities or equities.

What are the underlying assets for a derivative instrument?

Stocks, indices, commodities, currencies and bonds are often used as underlying assets for a derivative instrument. 

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