In finance, a spread trade (also known as relative value trade) is the simultaneous purchase of one security and sale of a related security, called legs, as a unit. Spread trades are usually executed with options orfutures contracts as the legs, but other securities are sometimes used. They are executed to yield an overall net position whose value, called the spread, depends on the difference between the prices of the legs. Common spreads are priced and traded as a unit on futures exchanges rather than as individual legs, thus ensuring simultaneous execution and eliminating the execution risk of one leg executing but the other failing.
Spread trades are executed to attempt to profit from the widening or narrowing of the spread, rather than from movement in the prices of the legs directly. Spreads are either “bought” or “sold” depending on whether the trade will profit from the widening or narrowing of the spread