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What Is Statistical Arbitrage and How Does It Work

18 Sep 2023


Statistical arbitrage, often referred to as "stat arb," is a trading strategy that aims to profit from short-term price discrepancies in financial assets. This strategy relies on the principles of mean reversion and statistical analysis to identify opportunities in the market. In the Indian stock market, statistical arbitrage has gained significant popularity among traders and investors. Let us explore more on statistical arbitrage.

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How Does Statistical Arbitrage Work?

  • Identifying Securities

Statistical arbitrage starts with identifying under-priced or over-priced securities through quantitative models and tools that analyse vast datasets for patterns and correlations among assets.

  • ​​​​​​​Pair Trading

A common statistical arbitrage strategy is pair trading. Traders pick two correlated stocks, often from the same industry. They form a pair, expecting one to outperform the other. When the pair diverges from its historical pattern, traders buy the underperformer and sell the overperformer to profit when the spread normalizes.

  • ​​​​​​​Statistical Models and Algorithms

Statistical arbitrage relies on complex statistical models and algorithms to analyze historical asset relationships, identify entry/exit points, and manage risk. Common models include cointegration, correlation, and time-series analysis.

  • ​​​​​​​Risk Management

Risk management is crucial in statistical arbitrage. Traders often employ strict stop-loss orders to limit potential losses. Diversification is another key strategy, as traders typically have a portfolio of multiple pairs or assets to spread risk.

Why Is Statistical Arbitrage Popular in the Indian Stock Market?

  • Volatility in Indian Markets

The Indian stock market is known for its volatility, providing ample opportunities for statistical arbitrage. Price discrepancies are more common in markets with higher volatility, making it an attractive choice for traders.

  • Advancements in Technology

Advancements in technology have made statistical arbitrage more accessible in India. High-speed trading platforms, data analytics tools, and algorithmic trading have enabled traders to execute their strategies more efficiently.

  • Market Liquidity

The Indian stock market has seen an increase in liquidity, which is essential for statistical arbitrage strategies. Higher liquidity ensures that traders can enter and exit positions with minimal slippage.

What are The Challenges of Statistical Arbitrage?

  • Data Quality and Availability

Accurate and reliable historical data is crucial for statistical arbitrage. Traders may face challenges in obtaining high-quality data.

  • Regulatory Changes

Traders must stay informed about regulatory changes in the Indian stock market to optimize their trading strategies and risk management.

  • Market Conditions

Statistical arbitrage strategies may not always perform consistently due to changing market conditions. Traders should continuously monitor and adapt their strategies.


Statistical arbitrage is a complex trading strategy using statistical analysis to profit from short-term price differences in pair trading. Traders use advanced models, pair trading, and risk management. Despite profit potential, they must be aware of associated challenges, market conditions, and regulations.


Related Articles: Principal Trading vs Agency Trading | Guide to Paper Trading | What is a Spot Rate | Secured Vs Unsecured Bonds


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