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Trading and Investment Terms

Futures

Futures markets trade futures contracts. 

A futures contract is an agreement between a buyer and seller of the contract that some asset such as a commodity, currency, or stock will be bought or sold for a specific price, on a specific day in the future (the expiration date)

 

Futures contracts are traded on a futures exchange, such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) or Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)

 

 Popular index futures, currency futures, and commodity-related contracts include the following examples:

  • E-mini S&P 500 (ES) index futures
  • E-mini Dow Jones Industrial Average (YM) futures
  • Euro to U.S. dollar (6E) futures
  • British pound to U.S. dollar (6B) futures
  • 100 troy ounces gold (GC) futures
  • 5,000 troy ounces silver (SI) futures
  • 1,000 barrels crude oil (CL) futures

The symbol for the contracts is followed by another letter and number. The letter represents the month the futures contract expires, and the number represents the year of expiration.

 

For example

           If someone buys a July crude oil futures contract (CL), they are saying they will buy 1,000 barrels of oil from the agreed price upon the July expiration, regardless of the market price at that time. The seller is likewise agreeing to sell those 1,000 barrels of oil at the agreed-upon price. 

Unless either trades their contract to another buyer or seller by that date, then the original seller will deliver 1,000 barrels of crude oil to the original buyer.

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