Non-Guaranteed Combination Orders

A combination order is a special type of order that is constructed of multiple separate positions, or ‘legs’, but executed as a single transaction.  The legs of the combination may be comprised of the same position type (e.g. stock vs. stock, option vs. option or SSF vs. SSF) or different position types (e.g. stock vs. option, SSF vs. option or EFP).  It’s important to note that many combination order types, while submitted via the IB trading platform as a combination, are not native to (i.e., supported by) the exchanges and therefore may not be guaranteed by IB.  Accordingly, IB’s policy is to guarantee only Smart-Routed U.S. stock vs. option and option vs. option combination orders.

As combination orders which are not guaranteed are exposed to the risk of partial execution, both in terms of the quantity of legs and their balance, IB requires account holders to acknowledge the 'Non-Guaranteed' attribute at the point of order entry.  There are two methods for setting this attribute:

  • Method 1 - Users can select the Non-Guaranteed attribute in the Misc. section on the Order Ticket for a particular order
  • Method 2 - Users can add the Non-Guaranteed column to the Order Management section of the TWS



  • Non-Guaranteed combination orders are not available for Financial Advisor allocation orders


The risk of such 'Non-Guaranteed' orders is illustrated through the example below:


Assume the following quotes for a Stock vs. Stock combination order to purchase shares of Microsoft (MSFT) and sell shares of Appl (AAPL).

Current markets

MSFT - 26.30 bid, 26.31 offer
AAPL - 250.25 bid, 250.30 offer

A generic combination is created to buy 1 share AAPL and sell 1 share MSFT, the implied quote would be 223.94 bid, 224 offer.

The following order is entered:
Buy 200 AAPL, Sell 200 MSFT
Pay 224

Based on the current markets, the order would appear to be executable.

  • A buy of 200 shares of AAPL are routed with a 250.30 limit. Only 100 execute.
  • A sell of 200 shares of MSFT are routed with a 26.30 limit. No execution is received as the market moves to 26.29 bid.

With a Non-Guaranteed combination, the 100 shares of AAPL would be placed in the client account, even though no MSFT shares were executed.  The remainder of the combination order will continue to work until executed in its entirety or until it is canceled.

What is the exchange minimum margin requirement on SSF positions?


In the case of a long or short SSF, the exchange margin requirement is equal 20% of the underlying value of the contract (initial and maintenance margin)

In the case of a hedged position (e.g., High or Low Synthetic strategy) in which a clilent is long (short) a security futures contract and short (long) the underlying security, the required maintenance margin would be equal to 5% of the instrument having the higher current market value.

Will a long SSF ever trade at a discount to the underlying stock?



When a large dividend payment is forthcoming or if the underlying stock is difficult to borrow, the futures price may trade at a discount to the actual cash price.

Why does a long SSF typically trade at a premium to the underlying stock?



Single Stock Futures will typically trade at a premium to the stock price because of an adjustment for interest rates. The premium reflects the interest earned on the capital saved by not posting the full value of the underlying stock (adjusted for any dividends expected to be received prior to expiration).

How are SSFs priced?



Single Stock Futures (SSF) may be priced using the following formula:


Futures Price = Stock Price * (1 + (Annualized Interest Rate * Days to Expiration/365)) – Present Value of Dividends due prior to expiration.


Example: On 12/12/07 MSFT closed at $35.31 and has an expected dividend of $0.11 with an ex-date of 2/12/07 (61 days).  Assuming an interest rate factor of 4.5%, what is the 12/12/07 settlement price for the MSFT March 2008 SSF (97 days to maturity)?


$35.62 = $35.31 * (1 + (.045 * 97/365)) – ($0.11/(1 + (.045 * 61/365)))

Is a US Single Stock Future a security or commodity product?


US Single tock Futures (SSF) are a hybrid product, regulated jointly by the SEC and CFTC and allowed to be carried in either a securities account or commodities account.  IBKR elects to carry all SSFs in the security side of an account as this is the only way that margin offset can be provided against other security products (i.e., stock, options). 

US SSFs are listed at the OneChicago exchange and are cleared through OCC.

Are there any particular risks that one should be aware of when using SSFs to either invest excess funds or borrow funds at available synthetic rates?


While the High and Low Synthetic strategies are both hedged positions, the futures leg is subject to a daily cash variation of the mark-to-market gain or loss whereas the stock leg is not (mark-to-market gain or loss is reflected in account equity but there is no cash impact until the position is closed).  If, for example, an account holds a High Synthetic position and the stock prices increases significantly, the resultant variation pay on the short futures leg may erode the account’s cash balance resulting in a debit balance which is subject to interest payments.  The net effect in this example would be to reduce and potentially erase the earnings on the High Synthetic position

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