Futures are a way to profit from securities’ short-term price movements and trends, both up and down, without actually owning the underlying asset. It is a type of investment where investors try to take advantage of trading futures contracts. The commodities that such futures contracts trade can include grains such as wheat, corn to other produce such as lumber, livestock, cattle, coffee and even orange juice. There are also futures contracts for precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum.
What makes futures trading quite attractive is the high level of investment leverage that it offers. Investors can invest just as little as ten percent of a futures contract’s value in order to have the opportunity to trade it. This allows investors to trade futures contracts using lesser investment capital for trading larger valued contracts.
Futures contracts usually have standardized amounts of the commodity that they involve. For example, if an investor holds a future contract for wheat, he usually holds a value worth 5,000 bushels. Trading the contract would be dealing based on the value of the 5,000 bushels of wheat.
Although futures contracts only require a fairly small investment (usually ten percent of the contract value, known as the margin), investors should still think before taking or buying a futures contract. Traders should consider if they have enough margins to cover the contract as well as if they have what it takes to trade and deal a sizable move in prices that can go against their position.
It is also important that beginner traders try to establish a system of risk and reward when trading for a particular commodity. There are many factors that may affect the position of the trader in different futures contracts since they can involve a variety of commodities. A good way to do this is to establish a stop loss feature on traded futures. This simply means that the investors establish a certain price range wherein the contracts may stop trading in order to preserve profits from the trade or to minimize the possible losses.
Each commodity contract requires a different minimum deposit, depending on the broker, and the value of your account will increase or decrease with the value of the contract. If the value of the contract goes down, you will be subject to a margin call and will be required to place more money into your account to keep the position open. Due to the huge amounts of leverage, small price movements can mean huge returns or losses, and a futures account can be wiped out or doubled in a matter of minutes.