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Futures Markets

Learn about the various futures market sectors and find contract specifications.


Access a variety of free information and resources to help you trade the futures markets. Browse through the list of contracts to find the latest information, including history, contract specifications, market news, and more.

Chapter 1

Currency Futures

Currency Futures Overview

Usually a currency futures contract is priced in U.S. dollars per unit of another currency. The purpose of a currency future — or an ‘FX future’ — is to set a contract for the exchange of one currency for another currency at a specific point in time at a fixed price.

Explore each of the individual currencies markets below:

  • Australian Dollar Futures - The Australian Dollar is a favorite amongst currency traders for its reliability and broad range of benefits.

  • Brazilian Real Futures - The Plano Real (Real Plan) involved a monetary reform package that introduced the modern-day Brazilian Real.

  • British Pound Futures - The pound is the fourth-most-traded currency in the foreign exchange market, and it is also the third most held reserve currency in all global reserves.

  • Canadian Dollar Futures - Today, the Canadian dollar value has floated ever since 1970, and is the 7th most traded currency in the world.

  • Euro FX Futures - Since its introduction into world financial markets in 1999, the Euro has far exceeded the U.S. dollar in world circulation.

  • Japanese Yen Futures - Because of its floating exchange rate, the Yen is considered extremely volatile.

  • Mexican Peso Futures - The Mexican peso lands at the 12th-most-traded currency in the world, third in the Americas, and first in Latin America in world currency ratings.

  • New Zealand Dollar Futures - The New Zealand Dollar is one of the 10 most-traded currencies in the world and accounts for around 1.6% of the global foreign exchange market daily turnover.

  • South African Rand Futures - Speculators and investors frequently get involved with the Rand because it is consistently undervalued by 15-20% with frequent fluctuation.

  • Swiss Franc Futures - Considered as one of the world’s strongest currencies, the Swiss Franc is popular for its low volatility and its low correlation with returns on foreign assets.

  • U.S. Dollar Index Futures - The U.S. dollar is the most used currency in international transactions and as other countries’ official currency.

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Chapter 2

Energy Futures

Energy Futures Overview

Because developing countries, such as India, are rapidly evolving into a more technologically advanced society, the demand for the energy products to fuel such progress has rapidly shifted outward. Speculators and investors are becoming increasingly attracted to the multifunctionality of energy futures contracts.

Explore individual energy futures markets below:

  • Crude Oil Futures - The two major types of crude oil that traders and speculators focus on today are Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI).

  • Ethanol Futures - Ethanol's long-standing popularity as a feedstock, solvent, and liquor has kept traders and speculators interested in the energies markets for decades.

  • Heating Oil Futures - The amount of trading options for heating oil gives traders the ability and flexibility to manage price risk.

  • Natural Gas Futures - Although notoriously volatile in markets, natural gas has consistently grown to nearly a third of world energy consumption over the past decade.

  • RBOB Gasoline Futures - RBOB has quickly grown in popularity with futures traders, and it has also has become the new benchmark gasoline contract.

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Chapter 3

Grains & Oilseeds Futures

Grains & Oilseeds Futures Overview 

The total production volume for grain and oilseeds is highly dependent on factors such as weather, crop production cycles, and shift in global demand. Grain and Oilseed futures contracts are often used as price risk management and price discovery tools.

Explore individual grains & oilseeds futures markets below:

  • Canola Futures - Canola is currently considered an American cash crop, and although the U.S. is a net consumer of canola oil, major customers include Japan, Mexico, and China.

  • Corn Futures - Corn is undoubtedly the most-grown crop in the U.S. today. The U.S. grows corn on such an enormous scale (333 million tonnes) that we produce almost three times more tonnes than the next leading country, China.

  • Oat Futures - The U.S. grows large quantities of oats and therefore continuously ranks in the top ten oats producers compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

  • Rough Rice Futures - Rice is the staple food for the world's two largest populations and fastest growing economies: India and China. Because it is such a necessity for literally billions of people, many traders and speculators find rough rice an attractive commodity to invest in.

  • Soybean Futures - Soybeans were largely considered exclusively as an industrial product before the 1920's, but it has become one of the most active and popular markets to trade, and dominant oilseed in the U.S.

  • Soybean Meal Futures - Soybean meal has become a staple in livestock and poultry diets and is the world's choice for protein supplement due to its high protein levels, amino acid balance, and overall nutrient content.

  • Soybean Oil Futures - Soybean oil is actually common in everything from paints to insect repellents. On average, around 30-33 million tons of soybean oil is produced annually worldwide.

  • Wheat Futures - Wheat was the first crop to be cultivated on a grand scale and stored long-term, enabling the start of city-based societies and the dawning of civilization.

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Chapter 4

Interest Rate Futures

Interest Rate Futures Overview

An interest rate futures contract, such as a t-bond or Eurodollar contract, has an interest-bearing instrument as an underlying asset. These futures are typically employed to hedge against the risk of interest rates rising or falling in an adverse direction.

Explore individual interest rate futures markets below:

  • 30-Day Federal Funds - Federal Fund futures contracts indicate the average daily federal funds effective rate in a particular month.

  • Eurodollar Futures - A common use for Eurodollar futures contracts is to secure the current interest rate on money it expects to borrow at a later time.

  • Swap Futures - A swap is a derivative in which two parties exchange each other's financial instruments.

  • T-Bond Futures - Compared with treasury notes or treasury bonds, t-bonds take the longest time to mature.

  • T-Note Futures - The most commonly quoted and discussed is the 10-year t-note because it articulates long-term expectations of the market.

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Chapter 5

Livestock Futures

Livestock Futures Overview

As with most futures contracts, livestock futures contracts specify the commodity, quantity, and the delivery point. Beyond these, livestock futures also specify the quality of the commodity in particular U.S. grades.

Explore individual livestock futures markets below:

  • Feeder Cattle Futures - In order to be transferred to the feedlot and fattened for slaughter, feeder cattle must be between 1-2 years of age.

  • Lean Hog Futures - Hogs are bred twice a year continuously in order to ensure a constant wave of production.

  • Live Cattle Futures - Live cattle are specially raised for beef production. Contracts for live cattle in the CME are for 18 metric tons.

  • Milk Futures - Today, the largest milk and dairy producers in the world are India, the U.S., Germany, and Pakistan.

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Chapter 6

Metal Futures

Metal Futures Overview

Metal futures have a long-standing history of attracting everyone from banks to private individual traders. These contracts’ widespread popularity is a result of their usefulness in protecting buyers and sellers against price and volatility risk, as well as for allowing investors to pursue opportunities.

Explore individual metals futures markets below:

  • Copper Futures - Copper is unique among other metals because it can establish the state of economic growth in a given country. This precious metal maintains its significance alongside silver and gold in futures investing

  • Gold Futures - Gold is the most popular investment and trade option of all precious metals on the markets.

  • Palladium Futures - This jack-of-all-trades metal is steadily growing in importance in the futures markets.

  • Platinum Futures - Platinum’s multiuse functionality has earned its increased importance in the futures markets over the past few years.

  • Silver Futures - Second in popularity, after gold, in the futures markets, silver is looked upon as a good investment because of its versatility and many industry uses.

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Chapter 7

Stock Index Futures

Stock Index Futures Overview

A stock index future is a cash-settled contract based upon the value of a stock market index, such as the S&P 500 stock market index. These contracts have a broad spectrum of uses, including hedging risk.

Explore individual stock index futures markets below:

  • CRB CCI Index Futures - The CCI, or Continuous Commodity Index, revised the original Commodity Reaserch Bureau Index (CRB) in 1995.

  • DJIA Futures - The Dow shows how 30 U.S.-based companies have traded in a standard session.

  • NASDAQ 100 Futures - The NASDAQ-100 is a stock market index of the largest 100 non-financial companies.

  • Russell 2000 Futures - The Russell 2000 Index is the most commonly quoted performance index of small-cap and medium-cap company shares.

  • S&P 500 Index Futures - Focusing on 500 large-cap common U.S. stocks, the S&P 500 is a narrower market indicator than the Russell 2000.

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Chapter 8

Tropicals & Softs Futures

Tropicals & Softs Futures Overview

Tropicals and Softs are renewable but are annually influenced by climate changes, diseases, and water shortages. Increased demand for these commodities has attracted futures investment, a trend that will certainly continue in the future.

Explore individual tropicals & softs futures markets below:

  • Cocoa Futures - The precious value of the cocoa bean has long been known. Today, it is recognized that cocoa futures represent the benchmark for the world cocoa market.

  • Coffee Futures - Futures contracts for Grade 3 washed Arabicas have been around for decades and are popular with tropicals and softs traders.

  • Cotton Futures - Cotton has been used in textile production for over 7000 years. The United States is responsible for one third of cotton that is traded and is the world's leading exporter in this cash crop.

  • Lumber Futures - Although lumber has been utilized for construction for thousands of years, large-scale lumbering did not occur until the Industrial Revolution.

  • Orange Juice Futures - Frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ) is a relatively new product, and therefore, an even newer available futures contract. FCOJ futures have been known for their versatility and volatility, and it has gradually gained popularity among traders.

  • Sugar Futures - Brazil is, without a doubt, the highest producer of sugar to date. Today, sugar granules are derived largely from sugar cane or sugar beet, but regardless of the source, the end product is the same.

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