Stale price arbitrage
Stale price arbitrage
For a number of assets, the most recent transaction price at 4PM ET does not fully reflect all available market information. One example is international equities that trade on exchanges that are located in different time zones and close 2-15 hours before U.S. markets. In addition, domestic small-capitalization equities and high-yield and convertible bonds often trade infrequently and have wide bid-ask spreads. This can cause the most recent transaction price to be much different from the price that one would see in a liquid market at 4 PM, even for assets that trade on exchanges that are open at that time. Investors can take advantage of mutual funds that calculate their NAVs using stale closing prices by trading based on recent market movements. For example, if the U.S. market has risen since the close of overseas equity markets, investors can expect that overseas markets will open higher the following morning. Investors can buy a fund with a stale-price NAV for less than its current value, and they can likewise sell a fund for more than its current value on a day that the U.S. market has fallen. Similar opportunities exist when the values of infrequently or illiquidly-traded domestic assets have recently changed. With normal market arbitrage, as more traders learn where to buy an item at relatively low cost and where to sell it at relatively high value, market pressures from such traders tend to stabilize prices. With stale price arbitrage, there is no corresponding pressure for market correction. That is, a fund always pays the going market rate even if that fund has an agreement with its customers to only charge them the price from the prior day closing. Accordingly, even if such agreements ultimately impact the prices of trades by the mutual funds, there is no impact on the price paid by the customer of the mutual fund. In that sense, the stale price arbitrage opportunity can last as long as a mutual fund honors its stale price agreement with its customers. Also referred to as Net Asset Value Arbitrage or NAV Arbitrage.
Net Asset Value Arbitrage
An investment strategy in which one takes advantage of a discrepancy in the net asset value between a mutual fund trading on two different exchanges. The net asset value of a mutual fund is calculated at the end of a trading day. However, because of differences in time zones, different exchanges close at different times. Thus, one example of NAV arbitrage involves buying a mutual fund in after-hours trading on one exchange on which the NAV has been set for the day at a certain price, and then selling it on an exchange that is still open and on which the same fund's NAV has not been set and is trading at a higher price. It is also called stale price arbitrage.