Futures & Options Education
A Trader’s Guide to Futures
by CME Group
An Option is an Option
by CME Group
Options on Futures
by CME Group
An Educational Guide to Trading Futures and Options on Futures
by National Futures Association (NFA)
25 Proven Strategies in Trading Options on Futures
by CME Group
Interactive Learning Courses
The fill or kill order is used by customers wishing an immediate fill, but at a specified price. The floor broker will bid or offer the order three times and immediately return either a fill or an unable.
The limit order is an order to buy or sell at a designated price. Limit Orders to buy are placed below the market while limit orders to sell are placed above the market. Since the market may never get high enough or low enough to trigger a limit order, a customer may miss the market if he uses a limit order. (Even though you may see the market touch a limit price several times, this does not guarantee or earn the customer a fill at that price. In most instances, the market must trade BETTER than the limit price for the customer to get a fill.)
The market order is the most frequently used order. It is a very good order to use once you have made a decision about opening or closing a position. It can keep the customer from having to chase a market trying to get in or out of a position. The market order is executed at the best possible price obtainable at the time the order reaches the trading pit.
MITs are the opposite of stop orders. Buy MITs are placed below the market and Sell MITs are placed above the market. An MIT order is usually used to enter the market or initiate a trade. An MIT order is similar to a limit order in that a specific price is placed on the order. However, an MIT order becomes a market order once the limit price is touched or passed through. An execution may be at, above, or below the originally specified price. An MIT order will not be executed if the market fails to touch the MIT specified price.
This is an order that will be filled during the final seconds of trading at whatever price is available.
Please note: A floor broker reserves the right to refuse an MOC order up to fifteen minutes before the close depending upon market conditions.
This is an order that the customer wishes to be executed during the opening range of trading at the best possible price obtainable within the opening range. Not all exchanges recognize this type of order. One such exchange is the Chicago Board of Trade.
This is a combination of two orders written on one order ticket. This instructs our floor personnel that once one side of the order is filled, the remaining side of the order should be cancelled. By placing both instructions on one order, rather than two separate tickets, the customer eliminates the possibility of a double fill. (This order is not acceptable on all exchanges.)
The pit broker is obligated to get the best possible price for the customer. Putting an OB on an order does not cause him to work harder. If the price is NOT OB, the broker is irritated because he is paying special attention to a ticket that does not deserve it. Think of OB as MARKET with a LIMIT. If the price does not have an OB next to it, and the market is considerably better, the pit broker may question the runner to see if the order should have been a stop. They will return the order for clarification which could delay the filling of the order and possibly change the results of the fill.
Only use “Or Better” if the market is “Or Better.”
The customer wishes to take a simultaneous long and short position in an attempt to profit via the price differential or “spread” between two prices. A spread can be established between different months of the same commodity, between related commodities or between the same or related commodities traded on two different exchanges. A spread order can be entered at the market or you can designate that you wish to be filled when the price difference between the commodities reaches a certain point (or premium).
For example: BUY 1 JUNE LIVE CATTLE, SELL 1 AUGUST LIVE CATTLE PLUS 100 TO THE AUGUST SELL SIDE. This means that the customer wants to initiate or liquidate the spread when August Cattle is 100 points higher than June cattle.
Stop orders can be used for three purposes:
- To minimize a loss on a long or short position
- To protect a profit on an existing long or short position
- To initiate a new long or short position
A buy stop order is placed above the market and a sell stop order is placed below the market. Once the stop price is touched, the order is treated like a market order and will be filled at the best possible price.
The stop price on a stop close only will only be triggered if the market touches the stop during the close of trading. The disadvantage of this order is a fast market in the last few minutes of trading may cause the order to be filled at an undesirable price. It can, however, protect the customer from getting filled during adverse price fluctuations during the course of the day.
A stop limit order lists two prices and is an attempt to gain more control over the price at which your stop is filled. The first part of the order is written like the above stop order. The second part of the order specifies a limit price. This indicates that once your stop is triggered, you do not wish to be filled beyond the limit price. Stop limit orders should usually not be used when trying to exit a position. If a customer does not give a limit price, then the stop price and the limit price are meant to be identical.
Explore the definitions for many of the terms used in futures and options trading.
Accrued Interest: Interest earned between the most recent interest payment and the present date but not yet paid to the lender.
Actuals: See Cash Commodity.
Add-on Method: A method of paying interest where the interest is added onto the principal at maturity or interest payment dates.
Adjusted Futures Price: The cash-price equivalent reflected in the current futures price. This is calculated by taking the futures price times the conversion factor for the particular financial instrument (e.g., bond or note) being delivered.
Against Actuals: See Exchange For Physicals.
Arbitrage: The simultaneous purchase and sale of similar commodities in different markets to take advantage of a price discrepancy.
Arbitration: The procedure of settling disputes between members, or between members and customers.
Assign: To make an option seller perform his obligation to assume a short futures position (as a seller of a call option) or a long futures position (as a seller of a put option).
Associated Person (AP): An individual who solicits orders, customers, or customer funds (or who supervises persons performing such duties) on behalf of a Futures Commission Merchant, an Introducing Broker, a Commodity Trading Adviser, or a Commodity Pool Operator.
Associate Membership (CBOT): A Chicago Board of Trade membership that allows an individual to trade financial instrument futures and other designated markets.
Basis: The difference between the current cash price and the futures price of the same commodity. Unless otherwise specified, the price of the nearby futures contract month is generally used to calculate the basis.
Book Entry Securities: Electronically recorded securities that include each creditor’s name, address, Social Security or tax identification number, and dollar amount loaned, (i.e., no certificates are issued to bond holders, instead, the transfer agent electronically credits interest payments to each creditor’s bank account on a designated date).
Carrying Charge: For physical commodities such as grains and metals, the cost of storage space, insurance, and finance charges incurred by holding a physical commodity. In interest rate futures markets, it refers to the differential between the yield on a cash instrument and the cost of funds necessary to buy the instrument. Also referred to as cost of carry or carry.
Carryover: Grain and oilseed commodities not consumed during the marketing year and remaining in storage at year’s end. These stocks are “carried over” into the next marketing year and added to the stocks produced during that crop year.
Cash Settlement: Transactions generally involving index-based futures contracts that are settled in cash based on the actual value of the index on the last trading day, in contrast to those that specify the delivery of a commodity or financial instrument.
Charting: The use of charts to analyze market behavior and anticipate future price movements. Those who use charting as a trading method plot such factors as high, low, and settlement prices; average price movements; volume; and open interest. Two basic price charts are bar charts and point-and-figure charts. See Technical Analysis.
Clearing Margin: Financial safeguards to ensure that clearing members (usually companies or corporations) perform on their customers’ open futures and options contracts. Clearing margins are distinct from customer margins that individual buyers and sellers of futures and options contracts are required to deposit with brokers. See Customer Margin.
Clearing Member: A member of an exchange clearinghouse. Memberships in clearing organizations are usually held by companies. Clearing members are responsible for the financial commitments of customers that clear through their firm.
Clearinghouse: An agency or separate corporation of a futures exchange that is responsible for settling trading accounts, clearing trades, collecting and maintaining margin monies, regulating delivery, and reporting trading data. Clearinghouses act as third parties to all futures and options contracts acting as a buyer to every clearing member seller and a seller to every clearing member buyer.
CME Clearing: An independent corporation that settles all trades made at the CME Group exchanges acting as a guarantor for all trades cleared by it, reconciles all clearing member firm accounts each day to ensure that all gains have been credited and all losses have been collected, and sets and adjusts clearing member firm margins for changing market conditions. Also referred to as clearing corporation. See Clearinghouse.
Commodity: An article of commerce or a product that can be used for commerce. In a narrow sense, products traded on an authorized commodity exchange. The types of commodities include agricultural products, metals, petroleum, foreign currencies, and financial instruments and indexes, to name a few.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC): A federal regulatory agency established under the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act, as amended in 1974, that oversees futures trading in the United States. The commission is comprised of five commissioners, one of whom is designated as chairman, all appointed by the President subject to Senate confirmation, and is independent of all cabinet departments.
Commodity Trading Adviser (CTA): A person who, for compensation or profit, directly or indirectly advises others as to the value or the advisability of buying or selling futures contracts or commodity options. Advising indirectly includes exercising trading authority over a customer’s account as well as providing recommendations through written publications or other media.
Computerized Trading Reconstruction (CTR) System: A Chicago Board of Trade computerized surveillance program that pinpoints in any trade the traders, the contract, the quantity, the price, and time of execution to the nearest minute.
Consumer Price Index (CPI): A major inflation measure computed by the U.S. Department of Commerce. It measures the change in prices of a fixed market basket of some 385 goods and services in the previous month.
Conversion Factor: A factor used to equate the price of T-bond and T-note futures contracts with the various cash T-bonds and T-notes eligible for delivery. This factor is based on the relationship of the cash-instrument coupon to the required 8 percent deliverable grade of a futures contract as well as taking into account the cash instrument’s maturity or call.
Crop (Marketing) Year: The time span from harvest to harvest for agricultural commodities. The crop marketing year varies slightly with each Ag commodity, but it tends to begin at harvest and end before the next year’s harvest, e.g., the marketing year for soybeans begins September 1 and ends August 31. The futures contract month of November represents the first major new-crop marketing month, and the contract month of July represents the last major old-crop marketing month for soybeans.
Crop Reports: Reports compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on various Ag commodities that are released throughout the year. Information in the reports includes estimates on planted acreage, yield, and expected production, as well as comparison of production from previous years.
Cross-Hedging: Hedging a cash commodity using a different but related futures contract when there is no futures contract for the cash commodity being hedged and the cash and futures markets follow similar price trends (e.g., using soybean meal futures to hedge fish meal).
Customer Margin: Within the futures industry, financial guarantees required of both buyers and sellers of futures contracts and sellers of options contracts to ensure fulfillment of contract obligations. FCMs are responsible for overseeing customer margin accounts. Margins are determined on the basis of market risk and contract value. Also referred to as performance-bond margin. See Clearing Margin.
Deliverable Grades: The standard grades of commodities or instruments listed in the rules of the exchanges that must be met when delivering cash commodities against futures contracts. Grades are often accompanied by a schedule of discounts and premiums allowable for delivery of commodities of lesser or greater quality than the standard called for by the exchange. Also referred to as contract grades.
Delivery: The transfer of the cash commodity from the seller of a futures contract to the buyer of a futures contract. Each futures exchange has specific procedures for delivery of a cash commodity. Some futures contracts, such as stock index contracts, are cash settled.
Delivery Day: The third day in the delivery process at the Chicago Board of Trade, when the buyer’s clearing firm presents the delivery notice with a certified check for the amount due at the office of the seller’s clearing firm.
Delivery Points: The locations and facilities designated by a futures exchange where stocks of a commodity may be delivered in fulfillment of a futures contract, under procedures established by the exchange.
Delta: A measure of how much an option premium changes, given a unit change in the underlying futures price. Delta often is interpreted as the probability that the option will be in-the-money by expiration.
Discount Method: A method of paying interest by issuing a security at less than par and repaying par value at maturity. The difference between the higher par value and the lower purchase price is the interest.
Discretionary Account: An arrangement by which the holder of the account gives written power of attorney to person, often his broker, to make trading decisions. Also known as a controlled or managed account.
Eurodollars: U.S. dollars on deposit with a bank outside of the United States and, consequently, outside the jurisdiction of the United States. The bank could be either a foreign bank or a subsidiary of a U.S. bank.
European Terms: A method of quoting exchange rates, which measures the amount of foreign currency needed to buy one U.S. dollar, i.e., foreign currency unit per dollar. See Reciprocal of European Terms.
Exercise: The action taken by the holder of a call option if he wishes to purchase the underlying futures contract or by the holder of a put option if he wishes to sell the underlying futures contract.
Expiration Date: Options on futures generally expire on a specific date during the month preceding the futures contract delivery month. For example, an option on a March futures contract expires in February but is referred to as a March option because its exercise would result in a March futures contract position.
Federal Reserve System: A central banking system in the United States, created by the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, designed to assist the nation in attaining its economic and financial goals. The structure of the Federal Reserve System includes a Board of Governors, the Federal Open Market Committee, and 12 Federal Reserve Banks.
Financial Analysis Auditing Compliance Tracking System (FACTS): The National Futures Association’s computerized system of maintaining financial records of its member firms and monitoring their financial conditions.
Financial Instrument: There are two basic types: (1) a debt instrument, which is a loan with an agreement to pay back funds with interest; (2) an equity security, which is a share or stock in a company.
First Notice Day: The first day on which a notice of intent to deliver a commodity in fulfillment of a given month’s futures contract can be made by the clearinghouse to a buyer. The clearinghouse also informs the sellers who they have been matched up with.
Forward (Cash) Contract: A cash contract in which a seller agrees to deliver a specific cash commodity to a buyer sometime in the future. Forward contracts, in contrast to futures contracts, are privately negotiated and are not standardized.
Futures Commission Merchant (FCM): An individual or organization that solicits or accepts orders to buy or sell futures contracts or options on futures and accepts money or other assets from customers to support such orders. Also referred to as commission house or wire house.
Futures Contract: A legally binding agreement, made on the trading floor of a futures exchange, to buy or sell a commodity or financial instrument sometime in the future. Futures contracts are standardized according to the quality, quantity, and delivery time and location for each commodity. The only variable is price, which is discovered on an exchange trading floor.
Gross National Product (GNP): Gross Domestic Product plus the income accruing to domestic residents as a result of investments abroad less income earned in domestic markets accruing to foreigners abroad.
Hedger: An individual or company owning or planning to own a cash commodity corn, soybeans, wheat, U.S. Treasury bonds, notes, bills, etc. and concerned that the cost of the commodity may change before either buying or selling it in the cash market. A hedger achieves protection against changing cash prices by purchasing (selling) futures contracts of the same or similar commodity and later offsetting that position by selling (purchasing) futures contracts of the same quantity and type as the initial transaction.
Hedging: The practice of offsetting the price risk inherent in any cash market position by taking an equal but opposite position in the futures market. Hedgers use the futures markets to protect their businesses from adverse price changes. See Selling (Short) Hedge and Purchasing (Long) Hedge.
Hog/Corn Ratio: The relationship of feeding costs to the dollar value of hogs. It is measured by dividing the price of hogs (hundredweight) by the price of corn (bushel). When corn prices are high relative to pork prices, fewer units of corn equal the dollar value of 100 pounds of pork. Conversely, when corn prices are low in relation to pork prices, more units of corn are required to equal the value of 100 pounds of pork. See Feed Ratio.
Horizontal Spread: The purchase of either a call or put option and the simultaneous sale of the same type of option with typically the same strike price but with a different expiration month. Also referred to as a calendar spread.
IDEM Membership (CBOT): A Chicago Board of Trade membership of trading privileges for futures contracts in the index, debt, and energy markets category (gold, municipal bond index, 30-day fed funds, and stock index futures).
Interdelivery Spread: The purchase of one delivery month of a given futures contract and simultaneous sale of another delivery month of the same commodity on the same exchange. Also referred to as an intramarket or calendar spread.
In-the-Money Option: An option having intrinsic value. A call option is in-the-money if its strike price is below the current price of the underlying futures contract. A put option is in-the-money if its strike price is above the current price of the underlying futures contract. See Intrinsic Value.
Introducing Broker (IB): A person or organization that solicits or accepts orders to buy or sell futures contracts or commodity options but does not accept money or other assets from customers to support such orders.
Invisible Supply: Uncounted stocks of a commodity in the hands of wholesalers, manufacturers, and producers that cannot be identified accurately; stocks outside commercial channels but theoretically available to the market.
Last Trading Day: The final day when trading may occur in a given futures or options contract month. Futures contracts outstanding at the end of the last trading day must be settled by delivery of the underlying commodity or securities or by agreement for monetary settlement (in some cases by EFPs).
Leading Indicators: Market indicators that signal the state of the economy for the coming months. Some of the leading indicators include: average manufacturing workweek, initial claims for unemployment insurance, orders for consumer goods and material, percentage of companies reporting slower deliveries, change in manufacturers’ unfilled orders for durable goods, plant and equipment orders, new building permits, index of consumer expectations, change in material prices, prices of stocks, change in money supply.
Linkage: The ability to buy (sell) contracts on one exchange (such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) and later sell (buy) them on another exchange (such as the Singapore International Monetary Exchange).
Liquid: A characteristic of a security or commodity market with enough units outstanding to allow large transactions without a substantial change in price. Institutional investors are inclined to seek out liquid investments so that their trading activity will not influence the market price.
Liquidate: Selling (or purchasing) futures contracts of the same delivery month purchased (or sold) during an earlier transaction or making (or taking) delivery of the cash commodity represented by the futures contract. See Offset.
Loan Program: A federal program in which the government lends money at preannounced rates to farmers and allows them to use the crops they plant for the upcoming crop year as collateral. Default on these loans is the primary method by which the government acquires stocks of agricultural commodities.
Managed Futures: Represents an industry comprised of professional money managers known as commodity trading advisors who manage client assets on a discretionary basis, using global futures markets as an investment medium.
Market Information Data Inquiry System (MIDIS): Historical Chicago Board of Trade price, volume, open interest data and other market information accessible by computers within the Chicago Board of Trade building.
Marking-to-Market: To debit or credit on a daily basis a margin account based on the close of that day’s trading session. In this way, buyers and sellers are protected against the possibility of contract default.
Money Supply: The amount of money in the economy, consisting primarily of currency in circulation plus deposits in banks: M-1 — U.S. money supply consisting of currency held by the public, traveler’s checks, checking account funds, NOW and super-NOW accounts, automatic transfer service accounts, and balances in credit unions. M-2 — U.S. money supply consisting of M-1 plus savings and small time deposits (less than $100,000) at depository institutions, overnight repurchase agreements at commercial banks, and money market mutual fund accounts. M-3 — U.S. money supply consisting of M-2 plus large time deposits ($100,000 or more) at depository institutions, repurchase agreements with maturities longer than one day at commercial banks, and institutional money market accounts.
Moving-Average Charts: A statistical price analysis method of recognizing different price trends. A moving average is calculated by adding the prices for a predetermined number of days and then dividing by the number of days.
National Futures Association (NFA): An industry wide, industry-supported, self-regulatory organization for futures and options markets. The primary responsibilities of the NFA are to enforce ethical standards and customer protection rules, screen futures professionals for membership, audit and monitor professionals for financial and general compliance rules, and provide for arbitration of futures-related disputes.
Notice Day: The second day of the three-day delivery process when the clearing corporation matches the buyer with the oldest reported long position to the delivering seller and notifies both parties. See First Notice Day.
OPEC: Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries emerged as the major petroleum pricing power in 1973 when the ownership of oil production in the Middle East transferred from the operating companies to the governments of the producing countries or to their national oil. Members are: Algeria, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
Open Interest: The total number of futures or options contracts of a given commodity that have not yet been offset by an opposite futures or option transaction nor fulfilled by delivery of the commodity or option exercise. Each open transaction has a buyer and a seller, but for calculation of open interest, only one side of the contract is counted.
P&S (Purchase and Sale) Statement: A statement sent by a commission house to a customer when his futures or options on futures position has changed, showing the number of contracts bought or sold, the prices at which the contracts were bought or sold, the gross profit or loss, the commission charges, and the net profit or loss on the transactions.
Payment-In-Kind (PIK) Program: A government program in which farmers who comply with a voluntary acreage-control program and set aside an additional percentage of acreage specified by the government receive certificates that can be redeemed for government-owned stocks of grain.
Performance Bond Margin: The amount of money deposited by both a buyer and seller of a futures contract or an options seller to ensure performance of the term of the contract. Margin in commodities is not a payment of equity or down payment on the commodity itself, but rather it is a security deposit. See Customer Margin and Clearing Margin.
Pit: The area on the trading floor where futures and options on futures contracts are bought and sold. Pits are usually raised octagonal platforms with steps descending on the inside that permit buyers and sellers of contracts to see each other.
Position Limit: The maximum number of speculative futures contracts one can hold as determined by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and/or the exchange upon which the contract is traded. Also referred to as trading limit.
Premium: (1) The additional payment allowed by exchange regulation for delivery of higher-than-required standards or grades of a commodity against a futures contract. (2) In speaking of price relationships between different delivery months of a given commodity, one is said to be “trading at a premium” over another when its price is greater than that of the other. (3) In financial instruments, the dollar amount by which a security trades above its principal value. See Option Premium.
Primary Dealer: A designation given by the Federal Reserve System to commercial banks or broker/dealers who meet specific criteria. Among the criteria are capital requirements and meaningful participation in the Treasury auctions.
Pulpit: A raised structure adjacent to, or in the center of, the pit or ring at a futures exchange where market reporters, employed by the exchange, record price changes as they occur in the trading pit.
Purchasing Hedge (or Long Hedge): Buying futures contracts to protect against a possible price increase of cash commodities that will be purchased in the future. At the time the cash commodities are bought, the open futures position is closed by selling an equal number and type of futures contracts as those that were initially purchased. Also referred to as a buying hedge. See Hedging.
Round Turn: A complete futures transaction, including both entry and exit. A purchase and a sale (or vice versa) of two contracts in the same market, which offset each other. Often used when referring to commission charges. Sometimes called Round Trip.
Selling Hedge (or Short Hedge): Selling futures contracts to protect against possible declining prices of commodities that will be sold in the future. At the time the cash commodities are sold, the open futures position is closed by purchasing an equal number and type of futures contracts as those that were initially sold. See Hedging.
Settlement Price: The last price paid for a commodity on any trading day. The exchange clearinghouse determines a firm’s net gains or losses, margin requirements, and the next day’s price limits, based on each futures and options contract settlement price. If there is a closing range of prices, the settlement price is determined by averaging those prices. Also referred to as settle or closing price.
Short: (noun) One who has sold futures contracts or plans to purchase a cash commodity. (verb) Selling futures contracts or initiating a cash forward contract sale without offsetting a particular market position.
Simulation Analysis of Financial Exposure (SAFE): A sophisticated computer risk-analysis program that monitors the risk of clearing members and large-volume traders at the Chicago Board of Trade. It calculates the risk of change in market prices or volatility to a firm carrying open positions.
Speculator: A market participant who tries to profit from buying and selling futures and options contracts by anticipating future price movements. Speculators assume market price risk and add liquidity and capital to the futures markets.
Spreading: The simultaneous buying and selling of two related markets in the expectation that a profit will be made when the position is offset. Examples include: buying one futures contract and selling another futures contract of the same commodity but different delivery month; buying and selling the same delivery month of the same commodity on different futures exchanges; buying a given delivery month of one futures market and selling the same delivery month of a different, but related, futures market.
Steer/Corn Ratio: The relationship of cattle prices to feeding costs. It is measured by dividing the price of cattle (hundredweight) by the price of corn (bushel). When corn prices are high relative to cattle prices, fewer units of corn equal the dollar value of 100 pounds of cattle. Conversely, when corn prices are low in relation to cattle prices, more units of corn are required to equal the value of 100 pounds of beef. See Feed Ratio.
Stock Index: An indicator used to measure and report value changes in a selected group of stocks. How a particular stock index tracks the market depends on its composition, the sampling of stocks, the weighting of individual stocks, and the method of averaging used to establish an index.
Stop-Limit Order: A variation of a stop order in which a trade must be executed at the exact price or better. If the order cannot be executed, it is held until the stated price or better is reached again.
Stop Order: An order to buy or sell when the market reaches a specified point. A stop order to buy becomes a market order when the futures contract trades (or is bid) at or above the stop price. A stop order to sell becomes a market order when the futures contract trades (or is offered) at or below the stop price.
Time Value: The amount of money option buyers are willing to pay for an option in the anticipation that, over time, a change in the underlying futures price will cause the option to increase in value. In general, an option premium is the sum of time value and intrinsic value. Any amount by which an option premium exceeds the option’s intrinsic value can be considered time value. Also referred to as extrinsic value.
U.S. Treasury Bill: A short-term U.S. government debt instrument with an original maturity of one year or less. Bills are sold at a discount from par with the interest earned being the difference between the face value received at maturity and the price paid.
Warehouse Receipt: Document guaranteeing the existence and availability of a given quantity and quality of a commodity in storage; commonly used as the instrument of transfer of ownership in both cash and futures transactions.
Yield Curve: A chart in which the yield level is plotted on the vertical axis and the term to maturity of debt instruments of similar creditworthiness is plotted on the horizontal axis. The yield curve is positive when long-term rates are higher than short-term rates. However, when short-term rates are higher than yields on long-term investments, the yield curve is negative or inverted.