What is Locational Arbitrage Strategy

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  • 20 Nov 2023
What is Locational Arbitrage Strategy

Key Highlights

  • Locational arbitrage strategy Involves various pricing discrepancies and mispricings in exchange rates.

  • This strategy encompasses several distinct types of trading strategies, each designed to exploit specific price differentials and mispricings in the stock markets.

  • It Applies to stocks, commodities, and currencies in the stock market.

In technical terms, arbitrage is a trading strategy in which you buy and sell assets such as stocks, commodities, currencies etc. At the same time in order to profit from small price variations. An asset could be bought and sold in the same market or in a different one. Arbitrage trading techniques are generally seen as low-risk even when they only earn small returns. There are some arbitrages with hardly any risk at all. It is the act of an investor trying to profit from the little variations in exchange rates for a certain currency pair between different banks. These variations in exchange rates are extremely little and only last for a short while.

serves as a compelling strategy for traders looking to seize profit opportunities.Some common types of this strategy are explained as follows.

1. Foreign Exchange Arbitrage

Imagine you are a forex trader, When you see that the EUR/USD currency pair is trading at $1.10 on one forex exchange but $1.12 on another. This would allow you to purchase euros in the less expensive market and resell them in the more expensive one, making a profit on the difference in price. This method uses price discrepancies in currency pairings in two different geographic marketplaces to its benefit.

2. Stock Market Arbitrage

Finding a stock that is listed on several exchanges is one way to engage in this strategy. Trades can be made on the less expensive exchange and sold on the more expensive exchange if the stock is trading at a lower price on one exchange than another. Traders should be aware of how currency affects these kinds of arbitrage opportunities.

3. Statistical Arbitrage

Statistical arbitrage involves using mathematical models and statistical techniques to identify and exploit pricing inefficiencies in the market. Traders analyse historical data and employ quantitative methods to make trades, aiming to profit from statistical anomalies in asset prices.

Locational arbitrage works by taking advantage of price differences for the same asset, like a currency or a stock, in different locations or markets. Here's how it operates:

Identifying price discrepancies

To get started with locational arbitrage, traders continuously monitor the prices of a particular asset, such as a currency pair, a stock, or even a cryptocurrency, in different markets or locations. They're on the lookout for instances where the price of the asset is higher in one location than in another.

Executing trades to exploit differences

Once a price difference is identified, traders act swiftly. They buy the asset in the market where it's cheaper and simultaneously sell it in the market where it commands a higher price. The goal is to profit from the price gap between the two locations.

Risk factors to consider

While locational arbitrage may seem like a risk-free way to make money, it's essential to understand that it comes with its own set of challenges. These can include transaction costs, exchange rate fluctuations (in the case of international arbitrage), and the speed at which prices change. Traders need to be vigilant and have efficient trading systems in place to mitigate these risks.

Assume that You are a trader who wishes to trade with different countries. Let's say you want to trade USD GBP currency pairs. Assume the exchange rate is 1.45, and you have to pay 1.45 US dollars to get 1 British pound.

You go to two different banks, ABC and XYZ. ABC will buy 1 British pound from you for 1.43 US dollars and sell it back to you for 1.45 US dollars. Meanwhile, XYZ will buy 1 British pound from you for 1.47 US dollars and sell it back to you for 1.49 US dollars. See how there's a small difference in the prices the banks are offering for the same money.

Here's where it gets interesting. You can buy 1 British pound from ABC for 1.45 US dollars and then sell that same pound to XYZ for 1.47 US dollars. By doing this, you make a profit of 0.02 US dollars for every pound you trade. And the best thing is, this trade is very safe, meaning you're not taking much risk. It's like finding a way to make a little extra profit without incurring much risk.

The decentralised nature of the currency market as a whole is one of the main causes of exchange rate mispricings. The currency markets are totally uncontrolled over-the-counter markets, in contrast to the highly regulated and centralised stock markets, which are facilitated by exchanges. Furthermore, because there is no central marketplace or regulatory body involved and all transactions are done electronically over the counter, there is a chance that different banks will have somewhat different exchanges.

One fundamental reason for locational arbitrage is the lack of perfect market integration. Despite advances in technology and communication, markets remain geographically dispersed, each influenced by its own unique set of factors such as local economic conditions, geopolitical events, and supply and demand dynamics. Information does not flow instantaneously and uniformly across all markets, leading to delays in price adjustments.


Locational arbitrage is a straightforward trading strategy to put into action. But the real challenge lies in discovering differences in exchange rates offered by different banks. It demands a lot of effort and persistence. Because the profit margins are quite slim in locational arbitrage, this strategy calls for a substantial amount of investment capital to achieve substantial returns.

In the constantly changing world of stock trading, this strategy offers an interesting chance for investors. If you grasp the different methods, stay alert, and utilise appropriate tools, you might benefit from price variations in different markets. However, it's crucial for traders to realise that, similar to any investment approach, arbitrage strategy demands thoughtful assessment of potential risks.

FAQs on Locational Arbitrage Strategy

No, it's a short-term strategy focused on immediate price differences.

Challenges include latency issues, regulatory hurdles, and high-frequency trading competition.

Yes, as prices converge, locational arbitrage helps equalise market disparities.

Yes, currency exchange rates affect the overall profitability of arbitrage trades.

Yes, simultaneous monitoring is crucial to identify and exploit opportunities.

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