Rubber Futures Trading Basics

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Contents

What are the basics of futures trading?

Not sure if futures trading is right for you? In this article, we’ll help you find out by taking a close look at what futures are and how they work.

What are futures?

To start, here’s a quick definition: Futures are contracts for the delivery, or cash settlement, of many things you may encounter every day, like materials, products, or even the stock market itself. But what does that really mean? Let’s break it down by exploring a few key traits that make futures unique.

All futures share the following three characteristics:

  1. Easy contract trading. Futures are contracts that trade on an exchange. That means if you buy or sell them, closing your trade is as easy as it would be for a stock. The futures market is relatively deep and liquid.
  2. Settlement by cash or physical delivery. Like stocks, most futures—including the CME E-mini S&P 500 and other equity index futures—settle in cash. There’s no exchange of physical goods or shares of stock. The only thing that changes hands is money.

However, some commodity futures, like corn and soybeans, are physically settled, meaning each party to the trade is expected to deliver or receive the actual commodity at expiration. But very few futures contracts are settled this way, and at E*TRADE, while you should be sure to close your positions on time, there are mechanisms in place to minimize this risk.

  • Backed by commodities or other assets. Futures contracts represent the pricing of essential things that affect our daily lives, including agricultural products (like wheat and cattle), energy products (like crude oil and gasoline), and financial products that facilitate international trade (e.g., those involving interest rates and currency exchange).
  • Equity index futures are one of the most popular, providing another way for investors to trade on price movement in the stock market. These include the CME E-mini S&P 500 mentioned above, plus the CME E-mini Nasdaq and CME E-mini Russell 2000.

    What are the basic terms used in futures trading?

    Now that we’ve seen what futures are, let’s explore how they work by defining and illustrating some essential futures terms.

    • Tick . Futures contract prices move in minimum increments called “ticks.” These are different for each futures product and can usually be found by checking the futures page. As an example, the CME E-mini S&P 500 has a tick size of a quarter of an index point.
    • Tick value. Unlike stocks (where each tick is worth a penny), tick size for futures is product-dependent, and as a result, the dollar value will vary. The tick value of the CME E-mini S&P 500 is $12.50, so if you buy a contract and end up selling it, say, two ticks higher, you’d make $25.00, assuming no commissions or fees.
    • Contract size. The specified quantity behind each futures contract (i.e., how much of a commodity or financial instrument is backing that contract) is called its contract size. For example, the CME gold futures contract represents 100 troy ounces of gold.
    • Notional value. Knowing the size of a futures contract enables you to determine its notional value—i.e., how much each contract is worth. You can figure this out by multiplying the contract size by the current price of the futures contract.

    Consider gold: If gold futures are trading at $1,300 per ounce and the size of the CME gold futures contract is 100 ounces, the contract’s notional value would be $130,000 ($1,300 x 100). In dollar terms, that’s how much one gold contract is worth.

    If a contract’s notional value ever seems too big for your wallet, check to see if there’s a contract with a smaller size. With gold, there is. It’s the CME E-micro gold, which has a contract size of 10 ounces—and a notional value of $13,000 ($1,300 x 10). That’s one-tenth the size of the bigger contract.

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    Futures Trading Basics | Understanding Futures Products

    | FRI JUN 12, 2020

    Many traders are familiar with investment choices like stocks, bonds, and options, but less are familiar with futures. To get a better understanding of futures products, Pete explains the basics of futures contracts and explains some of the different terms used in the futures world.

    What is a Futures Contract?

    A futures contract is an agreement between two parties, a buyer and a seller.

    • Short Position (Seller) – delivers the commodity
    • Long Position (Buyer) – receives the commodity

    A futures contract is a standardized contract comprised of:

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    1. The quantity of the commodity/index
    2. The quality of the commodity/index
    3. The date of delivery and the method of delivery

    What Is A Futures Tick Value?

    A tick value is the minimum amount that a futures contract can fluctuate. Tick values vary depending on the product traded. For example in WTI Crude (/CL) it is $0.01 which is = to $10.00.

    As the market moves, it can move in multiple ticks between trades, but the smallest movement the contract in the example above could make is to 52.00 to 52.01

    Each product will have its own dollar value assigned to a tick. Some products have significantly high tick values than others. Here are some example tick values:

    Before trading any futures product, be sure to understand the tick value of the instrument you are trading.

    Calculating The Tick Size (In Dollars)

    To find the monetary value of a tick, you must multiply the size of the contract by the minimum price movement of the underlying commodity/index.

    For example – if you wanted to find out the tick size for wheat futures, you would have to find out how many bushels one contract represents, then find out the minimum price fluctuation for a bushel of wheat. In this case, a bushel of wheat can trade in increments as small as $.0025. One wheat futures contract represents 5,000 bushels so the tick value would be $.0025 x 5000 = $12.50.

    Futures Ticker Symbol Meaning (See Slides For Visual Representation)

    Did you know that the ticker symbol when looking at specific futures contracts have unique meanings depending on the letters or numbers amended to the end of the symbol?

    This is a little confusing, here’s an example to clarify. let’s get back to EURO FX futures.

    The normal symbol for Euro FX futures is /6E. If you look up /6E you will see that there are several choices in products based on expiration. Some of the other products are: /6EU5, /6EZ5, and /6EH6. These are all Euro FX futures, but with different expiration months and years.

    In the examples above, the third letter represents the contract expiration month, and the last number represents the contract expiration year. Each month has its own ‘month code’ (can be seen in the video) and the number represents the last digit of the year the contract is in.

    What Is Notional Value?

    Notional value is the value that a futures contract actually represents (remember that futures are highly leveraged instruments and are a multiplier of the actual value of the underlying).

    Notional value can be calculated by multiplying the contract size (how much of the commodity the futures contract represents) by the current price of the underlying.

    Notional Value Calculation Example

    To find out the notional value of a contract, you need to first find out, how much of a given commodity/index that a futures contract represents. You can find this on the CME Group website here by selecting which product you want, then making sure that you are looking at the future specs (not the option specs).

    For example, if we wanted to find the notional value of the Euro FX (/6E), we would need to find the contact specs, and then find the price. To find the contract specs, you go here, then you would go to your trading platform of choice and see where the underlying is trading at.

    We see that /6E represents 125,000 Euros and the price is at $1.1236. Then, we multiply them to get the notional value:
    125,000*$1.1236 = $140,450

    Each and every time that you open a futures contract, the futures exchange will require a minimum amount of money be in your brokerage account. The margin is determined by the futures exchange, but is typically about 5-10% of the futures contract.

    The original amount needed to place the trade is called the initial margin. Once the trade is placed, the margin needed to keep the trade on is called the maintenance margin. This is lower than the initial margin and represents the lowest the account can go before needing to add more funds.

    Looking again at Euro FX futures (/6E) the initial margin would be $3,630 and the maintenance margin would be $3,300.

    Once you liquidate your futures contract, you will be credited the margin, plus or minus any gains/losses accrued during the time you held the contract.

    Options On Futures

    Options on futures are one of the most versatile trading products out there and if you’re already familiar with options, the concepts, price, behavior and terminology, then they are very easy to use.

    Types Of Futures Strategies

    There are several types of futures strategies that you can use to speculate or hedge risk. They can be categorized as:

    • Calendar Spread: the simultaneous purchase and sale of 2 futures of the same type, but with different delivery (expiration) dates.
    • Intermarket Spread: buying 1 market and selling a related product. (i.e. long WTI and short Brent crude)
    • Inter-Exchange Spread: any spread in which the positions are created in different exchanges. (i.e. going long CBOT wheat and short KCBT wheat)

    Strategy: Short Call Spread

    Products Discussed In This Episode: /6E, /M6E

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    BitMex Trading Basics

    BitMex is an exchange used for trading futures contracts. This article is an introduction to trading on BitMex. Feel free to use the trading platform to speculate on the price of bitcoin.

    Those not into speculation may still find BitMex very valuable. For example, the platform could be used to execute a simple long hedge while waiting for funds to transfer from a bank account to a gateway exchange like Gemini or Coinbase . A BitMex long hedge can lock in a favorable fluctuation in the price of bitcoin for those looking to accumulate the cryptocurrency over time.

    Account Opening

    Establishing an account on BitMex is straight forward. Only an email address is required to open the account. There are no AML/KYC checks. Consequently, government and other official identification documents are not required to open the account. When prompted, provide a real name or fabricate one. BitMex truly does not care.

    Feel free to use this affiliate link to open the account. Use the link to receive a 10% discount on trading fees for the next 6 months. [1]

    BitMex will send an email to the address submitted to verify that the email address entered is valid.

    After opening the account with a real (or fictitious) name, a valid email address, and secure password, be sure to set up two-factor authentication (2FA) if planning to significant amounts. BitMex works with Google Authenticator and Yubikey.

    Note: BitMex is not available in the United States of America.

    Account Funding

    An account must be funded with at least $1 worth of bitcoin before it can be used to trade. BitMex only works with bitcoin. Even though cryptocurrency prices are quoted in US dollars, it is not accepted on the platform. BitMex cannot be used to acquire bitcoin. BitMex traders must already have some bitcoin in their possession to fund the account.

    Weird, huh? With the passage of time it will seem less weird. Follow these steps to fund the account:

    1. Log in to the account with the email address, secure password, and optional 2FA credential.
    2. Click on Account on the top menu bar.
    3. Navigate to the Wallet section and click on Deposit.
    4. Send BTC to the QR code or multisignature bitcoin address provided.
    5. Wait

    20 minutes for the transfer to be acknowledged and credited.

    Note: BitMex uses the symbols XBT for bitcoin. It is exactly the same as BTC .

    In order to be able to trade at anytime the XBT market moves favorably, and to avoid the

    20-minute funding delay, try to maintain a reasonable XBT balance in the exchange wallet. In determining what is reasonable, please bear in mind that cryptocurrency exchanges are constantly under attack. Many have been successfully hacked. BitMex claims to use cold storage. Who knows? Better to play it safe.

    Trading is possible once the account is established and funded. However, the BitMex interface for trading is a little more intimidating than the one found on Coinbase.

    Apart from the nomenclature, there are some concepts that must be thoroughly understood before trading. Most folks tend to focus on leverage and margin when initially exploring BitMex.

    Indeed, leverage is the reason most people use BitMex. Before discussing leverage and margin, it is important to understand what a futures contract is. While many traders flock to BitMex to acquire the ability to leverage bitcoin trades, people tend to overlook what BitMex is actually offering.

    Futures Contracts

    Futures contracts are essentially bets on the future state of something. These things are typically commodities, like pork bellies. Yummy!

    On exchanges like BitMex, futures contracts are bets on the future value of very liquid cryptocurrencies. XBT, ADA, BCH, EOS, ETH, LTC, TRX, and XRP are very liquid cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is the most liquid cryptocurrency. It is the cryptocurrency most widely held and traded. It is also the cryptocurrency that this article is really focused on.

    Futures contracts derive their value from the underlying cryptocurrency (or underlying asset). Futures contracts are, therefore, derivative financial instruments, or derivatives. They could not exist without the underlying asset. For example, bitcoin derivates cannot exist without bitcoin. Bitcoin is the underlying asset of bitcoin futures contracts.

    Futures contracts are technically liabilities. They represent obligations to buy or sell an asset (like bitcoin or pork bellies). Traditionally, this asset is delivered on settlement when the futures contract expires. Read on to learn more about the terms in bold.

    Contract Settlement

    All futures contract must be settled at the expiration of the contract. Futures contracts are either physically settled or cash settled.

    Traditionally, futures contracts are physically settled. The buyer has the obligation to take physical delivery of the underlying asset from the seller. The seller has the obligation to make physically deliver the underlying asset to the buyer. This exchange happens on contract settlement.

    If the underlying asset was XBT, for example, then the seller would be responsible for delivering actual bitcoin to the buyer for the price specified in the futures contract. Fortunately, this is trivial. If the underlying asset was a large number of pork bellies, the seller would have to find a way to physically deliver that bounty to the buyer. Good luck with that! Maybe FedEx will help.

    BitMex futures contracts are cash settled. Cash settlement is typically much easier than physical settlement. In the case of pork bellies, cash settlement is definitely a less smelly affair.

    The amount to be settled is the difference between the spot price (the real price of the underlying asset at expiration) and futures price (the price specified in the futures contract).

    Contract Expiration

    BitMex offers perpetual contracts. Perpetual contracts are a type futures contract that do not expire[2]. According to BitMex,

    Perpetual contracts mimic a margin-based spot market.

    This is why most traders gloss over the intricacies of futures contracts.

    Although perpetual contracts are the most popular contracts on BitMex, there are other types of futures contracts. These contracts are more “traditional” in the sense that they expire. Traditionally, futures contracts expire because the contract is an agreement to buy or sell the underlying asset at a specific date in the future at a specific price.

    Some BitMex futures contracts expire in March, June, September, and December. The futures months codes for those months are H, M, U, and Z. They follow an industry standard. So an ADA contract that expires in 2020 on March 29th has a symbol of ADAH19.

    Traditionally, most futures contracts are not held until expiration. That is because most traders are feverishly speculating on the fluctuation in price after entering a long or short position. Consequently, there is a big drop in volume as traditional futures contracts near expiration. Only the traders that truly want to buy or sell the underlying asset hold their long or short positions until contract expiration.

    Note: This introduction to trading on BitMex is focused on XBTUSD bitcoin perpetual contracts only (see next section).

    Contract Specification

    Bitcoin perpetual contracts are symbolized as XBTUSD contracts on BitMex. The symbols indicate that the underlying asset is bitcoin (XBT) and that the price of the asset is quoted in US dollars (USD).

    Perpetual contracts, like other futures contracts, are standardized to make them highly liquid. Essentially, one XBTUSD contract is one US dollar’s worth of bitcoin. This is known as the face value of XBTUSD. On BitMex, all perpetual contracts are denominated in US dollars. That is ironical as the platform bans traders based in the United States. [3]

    Note: Acquiring a bitcoin futures contract (i.e. XBTUSD) is not the same as acquiring bitcoin (aka XBT or BTC). XBTUSD is not XBT. XBTUSD has no private key. It is not a cryptocurrency. XBTUSD is a bitcoin futures contract. It is an agreement to buy or sell XBT at a specific price at a specified time.

    Contract Positions

    There are essentially two positions that traders can assume on futures. Traders can go long or they can go short. Either they assume price is going up and take a “long position” to buy the underlying asset at a specified future date. Or they assume that price is going down and take a “short position” to sell the underlying asset at a specified future date.

    Futures contracts are simply agreements (obligations). Consequently, traders do not need to physically possess the underlying asset to take a short position. Future contracts make it possible for traders to take a position on assets that they do not own as long as they offset that position before the expiration of the contract.

    Contract Offsetting

    To profit from an open long (buy) position, the trader may open an offsetting short (sell) position before the expiration of the contract. This is the equivalent of buying low and selling high. Makes sense right?

    The opposite is also true. If the trader has a short contract and wants to profit from a beneficial fluctuation in price, they may go long in an offsetting contract. This is the equivalent of selling high and buying low. This seems illogical and impossible. Yet it is possible. It is possible because futures contracts are standardized obligations. A trader can commit to sell the underlying asset, even if they do not actually possess it, and later commit to buying back the same asset. It does not matter (“have any impact”) since offsetting is performed before the expiration of the contract.

    Margin

    Before speculators can make bets on future prices, BitMex requires traders to make a deposit. That deposit is called the margin. BitMex calls it the initial margin. It is the collateral that protects BitMex when a trader is suffering a significant loss from an adverse fluctuation in the price of the underlying asset.

    BitMex uses the margin to ensure that the trader does not default on their contractual obligation. When BitMex uses the margin to cover a trader’s losses it is referred to as a liquidation. Try to avoid liquidation.

    A maintenance margin is required after a contract position has been established. The maintenance margin is the minimum amount of funding a trader must have on deposit to maintain an open contract position.

    Leverage

    A trader is trading with leverage whenever their contract position is larger than their margin. BitMex allows futures traders to enter long or short positions that are multiples of the amount that they have on deposit in their account. That multiple can be as large as 100. This is known as 100x leverage.

    Note: Be sure to review the definitions of contract position and margin if that last paragraph makes no sense.

    Cross Margin

    BitMex created a special type of leveraged trading for gamblers (eh em… traders) that have an affinity for 100x leverage. It is known as cross margin (or spread margin) leverage. A trader may commit the entire amount that they have available on deposit to ensure they do not default on their obligation whenever there are adverse price fluctuations on a 100x leveraged contract position.

    Depending on the amount on deposit, cross margin leverage allows these ravenous speculators to hold on to their highly leveraged bet whenever an adverse price fluctuation would have triggered a liquidation event.

    The default setting for leverage on BitMex is cross margin (or cross). That might make some traders reflect for a moment. They might ask themselves: What exactly does the default setting encourage?

    Isolated Margin

    The alternative to cross margin is isolated margin. Isolated margin allows a trader to limit the margin that could be liquidated in the event that the market moves against them.

    Note: BitMex will liquidate a trader’s contract position even if the position is less than margin. BitMex will liquidate a position at 1x leverage if the market moves more than

    Longing and Shorting Bitcoin Perpetual Contracts

    Traders must place an order to BitMex to take a long or short position on XBTUSD perpetual contracts. There are basically two types of orders: market orders and limit orders.

    Market Orders

    Market orders are executed at the market price. The market price is a constantly changing price. Essentially, the price is constantly changing because BitMex has a book (or order book) full of orders placed by other traders and is incessantly matching them.

    Matching is performed by a matching engine. This order matching engine is not really an engine though. It is a bunch of computers running special code.

    To place a market order:

    1. Navigate to the Place Order menu.
    2. Click on the Market tab.
    3. Enter the quantity of XBTUSD perpetual futures contracts to either long or short.
    4. Click on either the “Buy Market” or “Sell Market” button.

    Note: Traders are forced to take the market price if they want their order executed immediately. Market orders take liquidity .

    Limit Orders

    Limit orders are executed when the market price crosses a specific threshold called the limit price. The limit price is specified by the trader. It is their reservation price. It is the most they will pay to go long on a perpetual contract or the least they will pay to go short.

    To make a limit order:

    1. Navigate to the Place Order menu.
    2. Click on the Limit tab.
    3. Enter the quantity of XBTUSD perpetual futures contracts to either long or short.
    4. Enter a limit price for XBT in USD.
    5. Be sure to click Post-Only.
    6. Click on either the “Buy/Long” or “Sell/Short” button.

    Note: BitMex gives rewards to traders that place limit orders. Limit orders make liquidity . Try to place limit orders as often as possible.

    [1] After establishing an account, share the affiliate link provided to extend benefits to friends, family, and other persons that need BitMex for a long hedge. Sharing benefits not only them but also the affiliate.

    Affiliates receive a percentage of total commissions paid by the people establishing accounts through the affiliate link. This percentage is paid in Bitcoin and deposited to the affiliate’s BitMEX wallet.

    Each referral generates affiliate commissions for the lifetime of the account. The greater the number of referral opening accounts and the more those referrals transact, the greater the commission BitMex shares with the affiliate. Click here to learn more about the BitMex affiliate program.

    [2] Technically, perpetual contracts on BitMex do expire. They expire every 8 hours.

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    We do not offer commodity trading advice or recommendations. © 2020 – TopstepTrader, LLC All rights reserved.

    All content published and distributed by TopstepTrader and its affiliates (collectively, the “Company”) is to be treated as general information only. None of the information provided by the Company or contained here is intended (a) as investment advice, (b) as an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell or (c) as a recommendation, endorsement or sponsorship of any security, company or fund. Testimonials appearing may not be representative of other clients or customers and is not a guarantee of future performance or success.

    Futures and forex trading contains substantial risk and is not for every investor. An investor could potentially lose all or more than the initial investment. Risk capital is money that can be lost without jeopardizing ones’ financial security or lifestyle. Only risk capital should be used for trading and only those with sufficient risk capital should consider trading. This is neither a solicitation nor an offer to buy or sell futures, options or forex. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

    CFTC Rules 4.41 – Hypothetical or Simulated performance results have certain limitations. Unlike an actual performance record, simulated results do not represent actual trading. Also, because the trades have not actually been executed, the results may have under-or-over compensated for the impact, if any, of certain market factors, such as lack of liquidity. Simulated trading programs, in general, are also subject to the fact that they are designed with the benefit of hindsight. No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve profit or losses similar to those shown.

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