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Before you can use PC-SPAN, you need to get the daily SPAN risk parameter file(s) for the exchange(s) and business date(s) you are interested in, onto your PC. SPAN files are available for downloading without charge from the CME website at ftp://ftp.cmegroup.com/pub/span/data.    Individual subdirectories of this directory contain the SPAN files for the various exchanges and clearing organizations.      

SPAN files can be stored in any local or network disk or directory.  By default PC-SPAN will look for SPAN files in its "data directory", which is normally set as C:\SPAN4\data.  (You can change it to any desired location.) 

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So that you can get started with PC-SPAN right away, some sample SPAN files are provided with the program.  In this quick tour, we'll use one of these sample files.    

Unzipping SPAN Files

To "unzip" a ZIP file means to extract the data file contained inside the ZIP file.  If you are using Windows XP or later, you don't need any additional software.  Just double-click on the ZIP file to open it, select the SPAN file contained inside, right-mouse click and select Copy, then go to the directory where you want to put the SPAN file and Paste it there.

You can also use PK-ZIP, WinZip, or many other programs which "unzip" ZIP files.   For example, the following instructions are for a version of the WinZip utility.

CD install:

If you purchased PC-SPAN on CD, the WinZip utility is included. Place the CD in the CD drive. Click on the start button and select Run. A window will pop-up with a Browse button. Click the Browse button and search the CD drive. Select WinZip/winzip70.exe to populate the window. Now click OK and the winzip70.exe file will install onto your computer. Note: the install will place a WinZip icon on your Desktop.

Internet install:

If you downloaded PC-SPAN electronically, you will need to go to the WinZip homepage to download the WinZip utility. Go to www.winzip.com (WinZip homepage) and click on "Download 7.0 evaluation version". This will take you to a window with a "Download WinZip 7.0 for Windows 95/08/NT/2000" icon. Click on the icon. A window will pop-up and ask you to "Save this program to disk". Click OK. Now, a window pops-up and asks where to save the file. You can save this file in any directory but we recommend saving in a "Temp" directory. For this example, we will save in a temp directory (i.e. C:\Temp). Select C:\Temp in the pop-up window and click save. The winzip70.exe file will now download to the chosen directory. Finally, open NT Explorer and find the file at C:\Temp\winzip70.exe. Double click on winzip70.exe and the utility will install onto your computer. Note: the install will place a Winzip icon on your Desktop. Now you can unzip Span risk parameter files.

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After you have downloaded the exchange parameter file you are interested in (see Getting SPAN(r) risk parameter files instructions above) you will need to unzip the file. Click on the WinZip icon. The WinZip agreement window will pop-up. After reviewing the terms and finding them acceptable, click on the "I Agree" button. The program starts with the following window:

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Click on the Open icon. An Open Archive window pops-up like the one pictured below. Look-in the Span4\Data directory or whichever directory you have downloaded the zipped SPAN risk parameter file to. Highlight the exchange parameter file you wish to unzip. Click on open.

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Now you are returned to the main WinZip window with the selected file populating the workspace. The next step is to select the Extract icon and tell the program where to place the extracted file. Extract means "unzip". Click the Extract button from the Main window.

The Extract window pops-up similar to the graphic below. In the "Extract to box" in the upper left corner of the window, select C:\Span4\Data or whichever directory you would like the unzipped file to be located. C:\Span4\Data is the default directory for Span4 files.

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Next, click the extract button. The extracting/unzipping process only takes a second. The exchange parameter file has now been unzipped and you are ready to start using PC-SPAN. The unzipped file will now appear with a .par.pa2, or .spn file extension in the directory you extracted the file to. [C:\Span4\Data in this example.] Close the WinZip window.

To re-emphasize, there are many shareware zipping programs available and you are free to use any of them for unzipping Span risk parameter files. The above example is for the Winzip utility only.

Loading SPAN Risk Parameter Files

Let's load the CME's SPAN risk parameter file for March 13August 31, 20012017, into PC-SPAN:

  • Click on the Load button on the toolbar -- the third button from the left.
    (Note:  you don't have to remember which button is which.  Just point to each button to display the "Tool Tip" for that button.)
    (Note:  you could also select Load Files... from the File menu, or just press Ctrl-L, the keyboard shortcut.)
  • The Load Files dialog box will display.
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  • Click on the file cme0313s.parcme.20170830.c.pa2 to select it, then click on the Open button to start the loading process.  This is the "standard unpacked" ("regular") format file for the CME for business date March 13, 2001.
  • The Loading SPAN risk parameter file... box will display briefly while the file is being loaded.
    When the loading is complete, you'll see a small "plus sign" in a box at the top-left corner of the "Data Window":
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  • Click on that "plus sign" -- this is called "expanding this node on the tree" -- and you'll be able to see that so far we have data loaded for March 13August 31, 20012017:
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  • Click on the plus sign to the left of "Exchange Complexes", and you'll be able to see that we have data loaded for the CME for this business date:
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Creating a Portfolio and Calculating its Performance Bond Requirement

  • Point to the New Portfolio button on the toolbar -- the fifth one from the left:  (Remember, you don't have to remember which is which -- just point to it and the "tool tip" will display "New Portfolio".)
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  • Click on the button to create the new portfolio and display its "New Portfolio" dialog box.  (Note:  you could also have selected New Portfolio from the File menu, or just pressed Ctrl-W, the keyboard shortcut.)
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  • Now let's enter some data about the portfolio:

    • Parent Account:  leave as (None).  (This field is used to link a subaccount of an omnibus account, to its parent omnibus account.)
    • Clearing Firm:  enter something -- anything -- to identify the firm.
    • Account:  enter something -- anything -- to identify the specific account at the firm -- or leave this field as its default value of "*** New Portfolio ***".
    • Account Type:  select the desired account type.  Most users will be choosing between:
      • S - Speculator - Customer for speculative public customers of brokerage firms
      • H - Hedge - Customer for customer accounts eligible for hedger margin rates
      • M - Member - Customer for customer accounts held by exchange members and hence eligible for member margin rates
      • O - Omnibus/Speculator for omnibus accounts where naked positions are margined using speculative margin rates, or
      • Q - Omnibus/Hedge for omnibus accounts where naked positions are margined using hedge rates.

        For our tour, let's select S - Speculator - Customer.

    • Seg Type:  leave at its default value of N/A (not applicable.)  This field allows you to specify the segregation type ("origin") of the account, if you wish.
    • Portfolio Currency:  select the currency in which you want the overall performance bond (margin) requirement for this account denominated.  Most users will leave this at its default value of USD, for U.S. Dollars.
    • Ledger Balance:  enter the cash balance in the account.
    • Open Trade Equity:  enter the gain or loss on open futures positions in the portfolio.  If a loss, enter as a negative number, with a leading minus sign.
    • Securities on Deposit:  enter the performance bond (margin) value of all non-cash collateral on deposit, such as Treasury securities.

      Note:  You only need to enter values for Ledger Balance, Open Trade Equity and Securities on Deposit if you want PC-SPAN's comparison of performance bond requirement to collateral on deposit, to be meaningful.  If you don't care about this comparison, and are only interested in knowing what the performance bond requirement is, you can leave these values as zeros.)

  • Now point to the Positions tab:
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  • and click on it so that we can start defining positions.
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  • Let's enter some positions in ES futures -- the "E-Mini" S&P 500 equity index futures:

    • Select ES in the Product field.
    • The Product Type field will default to Future.
    • Let's enter 55 for the March 2000 December 2017 contract (the "200003201712" contract) and -33 (ie, short 33) for the June 2000 2018 contract.
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  • Now let's change Product Type to Option on Future and select for Option Series the March 2000 options December 2017 options on the March 2000 future December 2017:
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  • Enter a long position of 52 in the 1380 call 1375 put and a short position of 100 in the 1400 1420 call:
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  • Let's change the product to NDNQ for E-Mini Nasdaq 100 futures and enter a short position of 50 in the June 2000 March 2018 contract:
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  • If you click on the Contracts with Positions check box at the top-left of the dialog box, and then on the All Positions for Selected Exchange Complex check box, you can quickly view all of the positions you have defined for the CME.

    (Note:  to change any position quantity, just modify the value.  To remove a position, just change its quantity to zero.)
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  • Now -- very important -- click on the OK button to save the portfolio and close the portfolio dialog box.  In the data window now, you can see the portfolio:
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  • Now let's calculate the performance bond requirement for this portfolio.  Point to the Calculate button on the toolbar (the one with the plus/minus on it)...
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  • and click on it.  (You could also select Calculate Portfolios from the File menu, or just press Ctrl-K, the keyboard shortcut.)  The performance bond requirement will be calculated, and the Portfolio dialog box will be displayed so that you can immediately view the overall requirement for the account:
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  • Note how the window shows you both the Maintenance requirement and the Initial Requirement.  (For speculative customer portfolios, the initial requirement will typically be somewhat larger than the maintenance requirement.)  For each, you see the SPAN Requirement (ie, the risk performance bond requirement, also called just the risk requirement), the Available Net Option Value (positive if the portfolio is net long in equity-style option value and negative if the portfolio is net short in option value), and the Total Requirement.  As you can see the Total Requirement is equal to the SPAN Requirement, less the Available Net Option Value.
  • Now click on the Values tab to display the overall portfolio value, broken out by long and short options value, and long and short futures value.
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  • Now click on the OK button to close the portfolio dialog box and return to the main window.  Notice how the "exclamation point" symbol to the left of the portfolio has changed color from red to green, to indicate that this portfolio's performance bond requirement has been calculated:
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Preparing Reports

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  • Click on the Reports tab to display the main reports page.
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  • On the left-hand pane, you'll see three folders of available reports, with the available reports from the Portfolios folder already display.
  • Point to the Positions report, and click to generate the report:
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  • Now let's point to the Requirements report, and click to generate the report:
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  • Note above how the report has two pages at its current page size of 50 lines per page.  You can browse backwards and forwards among the pages using the arrow buttons shown above.
  • If you want to print the report, click on the Print All button to bring up the standard Windows Print dialog box.  (Note:  you use the printer's Properties button to change between portrait and landscape mode as desired.)  Click OK to print the report, or Cancel if you change your mind.
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