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Pairs trading: An optimal selling rule

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  • Pairs trading involves two cointegrated securities. When divergence is underway, i.e., one stock moves up while the other moves down, a pairs trade is entered consisting of a short position in the outperforming stock and a long position in the underperforming one. Such a strategy bets the ``spread'' between the two would eventually converge. This paper is concerned with an optimal pairs-trade selling rule. In this paper, a difference of the pair is governed by a mean-reverting model. The trade will be closed whenever the difference reaches a target level or a cutloss limit. Given a fixed cutloss level, the objective is to determine the optimal target so as to maximize an overall return. This optimization problem is related to an optimal stopping problem as the cutloss level vanishes. Expected holding time and profit probability are also obtained. Numerical examples are reported to demonstrate the results.
    Mathematics Subject Classification: Primary: 93E20, 91G80; Secondary: 49L20.

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