Margin requirements for futures and futures options are established by each exchange through a calculation algorithm known as SPAN margining. SPAN (Standard Portfolio Analysis of Risk) evaluates overall portfolio risk by calculating the worst possible loss that a portfolio of derivative and physical instruments might reasonably incur over a specified time period (typically one trading day.) This is done by computing the gains and losses that the portfolio would incur under different market conditions. The most important part of the SPAN methodology is the SPAN risk array, a set of numeric values that indicate how a particular contract will gain or lose value under various conditions. Each condition is called a risk scenario. The numeric value for each risk scenario represents the gain or loss that that particular contract will experience for a particular combination of price (or underlying price) change, volatility change, and decrease in time to expiration.
So, for an investor who wants to trade $100,000, a 1% margin would mean that $1,000 needs to be deposited into the account. The remaining 99% is provided by the broker. No interest is paid directly on this borrowed amount, but if the investor does not close their position before the delivery date, it will have to be rolled over. In that case, interest may be charged depending on the investor's position (long or short) and the short-term interest rates of the underlying currencies.
An extremely important requested feature for QSForex has been the ability to backtest over multiple days. Previously the system only supported backtesting via a single file. This was not a scalable solution as such a file must be read into memory and subsequently into a Pandas DataFrame. While the tick data files produced are not huge (roughly 3.5Mb each), they do add up quickly if we consider multiple pairs over periods of months or more.
GUI Control and Reporting - Right now the system is completely console/command line based. At the very least we will need some basic charting to display backtest results. A more sophisticated system will incorporate summary statistics of trades, strategy-level performance metrics as well as overall portfolio performance. This GUI could be implemented using a cross-platform windowing system such as Qt or Tkinter. It could also be presented using a web-based front-end, utilising a web-framework such as Django.
Maintenance margin for commodities is the amount that you must maintain in your account to support the futures contract and represents the lowest level to which your account can drop before you must deposit additional funds. Commodities positions are marked to market daily, with your account adjusted for any profit or loss that occurs. Because the price of underlying commodities fluctuates, it is possible that the value of the commodity may decline to the point at which your account balance falls below the required maintenance margin. If this happens, brokers typically make a margin call, which means you must deposit additional funds to meet the margin requirement.
In particular I would like to make the system a lot faster, since it will allow parameter searches to be carried out in a reasonable time. While Python is a great tool, it's one drawback is that it is relatively slow when compared to C/C++. Hence I will be carrying out a lot of profiling to try and improve the execution speed of both the backtest and the performance calculations.
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Trading foreign exchange on margin carries a high level of risk, and may not be suitable for everyone. Before deciding to trade foreign exchange you should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite. Remember, you could sustain a loss of some or all of your initial investment, which means that you should not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. If you have any doubts, it is advisable to seek advice from an independent financial advisor.
To date, we've been experimenting with the OANDA Rest API in order to see how it compared to the API provided by Interactive Brokers. We've also seen how to add in a basic portfolio replication element as the first step towards a proper event-driven backtesting system. I've also had some helpful comments on both previous articles (#1 and #2), which suggests that many of you are keen on changing and extending the code yourselves.
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