11 Minute Read

What is Quadruple Witching?

March 20, 2015

By | 2 Comments

What is double, triple, Quadruple witching?

Double witching is the expiration of two related types of options and futures mentioned above. For example, it can be a stock option contract and stock future contract that both expire at the same time, or it can be a market index option and market index future that do the same.

Double witching happens eight times a year and occurs on the third Friday of the month—except in March, June, September, and December.

What is triple witching?

Triple witching is the expiration of stock options, stock futures, and an index option or index futures contract at the same time. The triple expiration happens four times a year on the third Friday of the month in March, June, September, and December—the months when double witching does not occur.

Quadruple witching happens when three related classes of options and futures contracts expire, along with the individual stock futures options.

Like triple witching, quadruple witching is the ending of contracts on the third Friday of every March, June, September, and December.

Quadruple witching is a relative newcomer, as it started after 2001. That’s when single stock futures were introduced to traders.

Now to get a little more advanced:
What are witching hours?

Witching hours occur when financial contracts—specifically options and futures—end on the third Friday of a month.

The time periods—double, triple, quadruple—reflect the number of contracts that expire.

Traditionally, all contracts expire in the same hour—thus the name witching hour—usually the last hour of trading.

However, some contracts for all three time periods can expire at the beginning of a trading day as well.

What are options and futures?

Futures and options are the contracts that expire on witching hours. Futures are contracts obligating the buyer to purchase an underlying asset (or the seller to sell an asset), such as a commodity like corn, or a financial instrument like a stock, at a predetermined future date and price.

Options give investors the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset at a set price on or before a given date. Options contracts are available on most of stocks, commodities, currencies, and other assets. You can even trade options on futures contracts.

These futures and options contracts fall into four broad categories: market index options, market index futures, stock options and stock futures.

What is the effect of witching hours on the markets?

Witching hours are used by traders to try to profit from the volatility in the underlying stocks or commodities.

With all the activity of the contracts ending—most especially with triple and quadruple witching—and the reshuffling of market holding, the effect is usually a dramatic increase in trading volume, or the number of shares bought and sold.

Also of note: the value of future options—ones that have yet to expire—may be slightly higher than usual on the Thursday prior to quadruple witching and on quadruple witching Friday itself, due to the increased amount of trading.

What happens on a quadruple witching hour day?

On the day of a quadruple witching, many investors attempt to end their futures and options positions before the contracts expire. This activity often includes repurchasing contracts and/or closing out market positions.

Quadruple witching days are usually accompanied by considerable volatility in stock and derivative prices, as well as increased trading volume. Knowing that this is a volatile time, investors can anticipate and plan for the potential effects.

For example, on the quadruple witching days in 2014, the average trading volume was 5.2 billion on the S&P 500—compared to a 3.37 billion daily average for the period of March 20, 2014 to March 19, 2015.

According to a post by Jeff Hirsch, who blogs at Stock Traders Almanac, March’s option expiration week performance “has a clearly bullish bias,” with DJIA and S&P 500 reporting weekly gains in nearly twice the number of weeks as declines. However, the week after tends to be bearish for DJIA and S&P 500 with declines outnumbering advances.

Tackle Trading LLC (“Tackle Trading”) is providing this website and any related materials, including newsletters, blog posts, videos, social media postings and any other communications (collectively, the “Materials”) on an “as-is” basis.  This means that although Tackle Trading strives to make the information accurate, thorough and current, neither Tackle Trading nor the author(s) of the Materials or the moderators guarantee or warrant the Materials or accept liability for any damage, loss or expense arising from the use of the Materials, whether based in tort, contract, or otherwise.  Tackle Trading is providing the Materials for educational purposes only. We are not providing legal, accounting, or financial advisory services, and this is not a solicitation or recommendation to buy or sell any stocks, options, or other financial instruments or investments. Examples that address specific assets, stocks, options or other financial instrument transactions are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to represent specific trades or transactions that we have conducted. In fact, for the purpose of illustration, we may use examples that are different from or contrary to transactions we have conducted or positions we hold. Furthermore, this website and any information or training herein are not intended as a solicitation for any future relationship, business or otherwise, between the users and the moderators. No express or implied warranties are being made with respect to these services and products.  By using the Materials, each user agrees to indemnify and hold Tackle Trading harmless from all losses, expenses and costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, arising out of or resulting from user’s use of the Materials.  In no event shall Tackle Trading or the author(s) or moderators be liable for any direct, special, consequential or incidental damages arising out of or related to the Materials. If this limitation on damages is not enforceable in some states, the total amount of Tackle Trading’s liability to the user or others shall not exceed the amount paid by the user for such Materials.


All investing and trading in the securities market involves a high degree of risk. Any decisions to place trades in the financial markets, including trading in stocks, options or other financial instruments, is a personal decision that should only be made after conducting thorough independent research, including a personal risk and financial assessment, and prior consultation with the user’s investment, legal, tax and accounting advisers, to determine whether such trading or investment is appropriate for that user.

2 Replies to “What is Quadruple Witching?”

  1. Using options on stocks or indexes, what would be an example strategy to profit from these Witching events? how profitable can such trades be?

  2. Avatar mark kowalski says:

    Thanks for a clear explanation about witching.

Comments are closed.

Chart Modal

Tackle Trading