Q&A: Do you use a synthetic spread trading platform to execute trades?

Answer: The short answer is no.
Day to day I use CQG Trader for spreads while our dealing room uses XTrader mostly. Both of these systems have a spread creation function. CQG call their system CQG Spreader and the ‘Autospreader’ function on XTrader is comes with the Pro version.

Note with many of the spreads I look at on the ProTrade site, they are actually exchange traded spreads. Most US calendar spreads for example have their own exchange listing, so instead of legging two markets (or requiring a spreading function on your platform), you are just trading one. It will still settle into your account as two trades, but you only ever place one. For most of the time, the b/a exchange traded spread will be tighter than the synthetic one.

 

Most charting packages should also have the codes for the spread. Compare Nat Gas on the image above. It’s the same market, but one spread is the exchange traded one and the other is just a chart of one contract minus the other. You can see the exchange spread makes more sense. The ‘synthetic’ looks all over the place as the software just calculated the two last prices, regardless of when they traded.

GB