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What December 2021’s ‘quad witching’ might mean for you

Bruno Cooke December 17, 2021
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Quadruple witching days roll around once every quarter, on the third Friday of March, June, September and December. Here’s what “quad witching” day in December 2021 might mean for you. Plus, where does the phrase come from?

What is ‘quad witching’ and when does it fall in December 2021?

Quadruple witching, or “quad witching”, refers to a date when stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures expire – all at the same time.

Typically, quad witching days see a lot of trading. Partly, this is due to what Investopedia calls “the offsetting of existing futures”.

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Quad witching day in December 2021 is today – December 17. There are four quadruple witching days in every year – a quadruplet of quad witching days. They fall on the third Friday of March, June, September and December.

How did quad witching days get their name?

The name, in particular the “witching” part, relates to the so-called “witching hour”. 

In folklore, the witching hour, or devil’s hour, is the time of night people associate with supernatural events – witches, demons and the like. It is the time when such apparitions are supposedly at their most powerful.

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The witching hour doesn’t necessarily refer to a specific hour – some say an hour from midnight, others 3am to 4am; it varies. Either way, the phrase dates back to at least 1775, when the reverend Matthew West included it in his poem, Night, An Ode.

But in stock trading terms, the witching hour does refer to a specific, fixed hour. It is the last hour of trading on the third Friday of each month. It is during this hour that options and futures on stocks and stock indexes expire.

What might December 2021’s ‘quad witching’ period mean for you?

For most people, the quarterly roll-around of a “quadruple witching” doesn’t mean much – but for some, December 17, 2021 is a significant date.

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The heavy trading that often results from the simultaneous expiration of derivatives of stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures can lead to increased volatility in the markets. 

For a detailed explanation of what quadruple witching means, including breakdowns of each of the four classes of contracts involved, visit Investopedia.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.