Price limits in futures markets: effects on the price discovery process and volatility

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Price limits are actively employed by many futures exchanges as a regulatory mechanism directed at reducing volatility and improving price discovery process. The aim of this paper is to investigate whether price limits achieve these goals without affecting market liquidity for a number of agricultural futures contracts. We employ models of changing volatility in order to show that price limits do not appear to significantly reduce market volatility. In addition, we find evidence confirming the hypothesis that price limits delay price discovery instead of facilitating it. Our results also suggest that the impact of price limits on volatility and price reversals, found in previous studies, are mainly due to the properties inherent to the futures returns, such as volatility clustering. Finally, although trading decreases significantly due to the price limits, traders do not seem to switch from the contracts affected by price limits to other maturities in order to minimize the impact of circuit breakers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-328
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Review of Financial Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Circuit breakers
  • Futures markets
  • Price limits
  • Volatility

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