Pairs trading with commodity futures: evidence from the Chinese market

Yurun Yang, Ahmet Goncu*, Athanasios Pantelous

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to compare the profitability of different pairs selection and spread trading methods using the complete data set of commodity futures from Dalian Commodity Exchange, Shanghai Futures Exchange and Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange. Design/methodology/approach: Paris trading methods that are proposed in the literature are compared in terms of the risk-adjusted returns visa in-sample and out-of-sample backtesting and bootstrapping for robustness. Findings: The empirical results show that pairs trading in the Chinese commodity futures market offers high returns, whereas, the profitability of these strategies primarily depends on the identification of suitable pairs. The observed high returns are a compensation for the spread divergence risk during the potentially longer holding periods, which implies that the maximum drawdown is more crucial compared to other risk-adjusted return measures such as the Sharpe ratio. Originality/value: Complementary to the existing literature, for the Chinese commodity futures market, it is shown that if shorter maximum holding periods are introduced for the spread positions, then the pairs trading profits decreases. Therefore, the returns do not necessarily imply market inefficiency when the higher maximum drawdown associated with the holding period of the spread position is taken into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-294
Number of pages21
JournalChina Finance Review International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Commodity futures
  • Market efficiency
  • Pairs trading
  • Statistical arbitrage


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