What are futures, and how to trade them?

We will discuss the basics of futures contracts and how to trade them. Futures are agreements to buy or sell a particular asset at a specific price on a future date. They can be used to hedge risk, lock in prices, or speculate on movements in the market. Trading futures can be lucrative if done correctly, but it is essential to understand the risks involved before getting started. We will outline the basics of trading futures and provide some tips for success.

What futures are and how they work

Futures are standardised contracts traded on an exchange, and they are agreements to buy or sell an asset at a specific price on a future date. The asset can be anything from commodities like oil and gold to financial instruments like bonds and currencies.

The buyer of a futures contract agrees to purchase the asset at the specified price on the future date, while the seller agrees to deliver the asset at that price. The price is determined by supply and demand in the market and is usually different from the current market price.

For example, let’s say you expect the price of gold to go up in the next few months. 

You could buy a gold futures contract agreeing to purchase gold at $1,500 per ounce at a point in the future. If the gold price goes up to $1,500 per ounce, you can buy it on the open market and deliver it to the party you have the contract with, fulfilling your obligation.

On the other hand, if the price of gold falls to $1,400 per ounce, you would still be obligated to purchase the gold at $1,500 per ounce. In this case, you would take a loss on the contract.

Some contracts are cash-settled, meaning that no physical delivery takes place. Instead, the buyer and seller exchange cash based on the difference between the contracted price and the actual market price.

How futures are used

Futures can be used for various purposes, including hedging, speculation, and price discovery.

Hedging is using futures contracts to offset the risk of adverse price movements in the underlying asset. For example, a farmer worried about the price of corn going down may sell corn futures to lock in a higher price.

Speculation is the act of betting on the future direction of prices. Speculators take on risks in hopes of making a profit from price movements. Some speculators use futures to hedge against other investments, such as stocks.

Price discovery is the process by which the market determines the price of an asset. Futures markets are often used to gauge the expected future price of an asset.

How to trade futures

Futures can be traded in two ways: through a broker or on an exchange. Trading through a broker is more expensive but offers more flexibility, while trading on an exchange is less expensive but has stricter rules.

When trading futures, you will need to put up a margin, which is a good faith deposit that serves as collateral for your position. The amount of margin required varies depending on the asset and the contract you are trading, but it is typically around 10% of the value of the contract.

If you want to exit your position before the contract expires, you can sell your contract to another trader. You can also let the contract expire, at which point you will either take delivery of the asset or receive a cash settlement.

Types of futures contracts

There are many different types of futures contracts available for trading, including

Commodity futures- These are contracts for physical commodities like oil, gold, and wheat.

Currency futures- These are contracts for foreign currencies.

Interest rate futures- These are contracts based on interest rates.

Weather futures- These are contracts based on weather conditions.

Tips for trading futures successfully

The main thing to remember when trading futures is to manage your risk. Futures contracts are leveraged instruments, which means they can result in losses that exceed your initial investment.

Futures trading is not for everyone, but it can be a way to make money if you know what you are doing. If you are considering trading futures, be sure to research and understand the risks involved.

If you are interested in futures; read more here.

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