When you trade in commodity futures, you don't actually buy something. Instead you buy its future contract purely on the assumption that the price of the commodity is likely to move upward in the immediate future before the expiry of the contract. You buy to gain profit from this increase in price. For example, if you buy gold futures at $650 now, and the price at the expiry of the contract is $660, you would have made $10 on the commodity futures contract without actually trading in or buying any gold.
People choose to trade in commodity futures because it offers them an opportunity to get very large leverage on their invested capital. If, for example, you had about $20,000 you would be able to buy an S & P 500 stock future of the index. The same in actual equity stock could cost you $350,000. So, you get leverage of 17 times on your $20,000 if you invest in futures. This has huge ramifications where return on investment is concerned. If you make $20,000 dollars on an upward trend on this contract, you would have ended up with a 100% profit on your investment! This is as opposed to investing in actual stock worth $350,000 and getting $20,000 as return on investment. Puts things in perspective, doesn't it?
What Are The Risks Involved?
However it's not all roses out there or everyone would be trading and doing nothing else. The truth is that there are many inherent risks in doing commodity futures trading too. The key is the risk to reward ratio. A lot of people are not as concerned about the return on their money as they are of their invested money returning. Greater the risk, the greater is the return. Of course, if you're wrong, you lose just a few thousand dollars trading carefully over a long period of time, whereas if you don't have the luxury of patience, you may lose a fortune quickly in just a few large trades.
Hence, one must remember that there is a huge risk of loss in commodity futures trading. To limit this loss, people use what is known as a 'stop' or a 'stoploss'. These are orders placed to square off your position if it turns against you in any trade to limit your loss. These are considered an essential part of commodity futures trading, as you never know what unforeseen event lurks ahead that has the potential to wipe out a large chunk of your invested capital. To make money, one has to accept that you will lose money also. If you have a good trading system, and use stops in your trades, you are sure to succeed over time.
Sometimes markets move so fast that your stop loss will not be hit. This is due to the broker not being able to trade the market for you because of these limit moves. It is for this reason, many only choose futures options.
Commodity futures hold immense potential in making for you huge amounts of money. However, one needs to be careful, and invest funds wisely and with patience.
David has traded futures & options for one of the largest cash trading firms in the world. He currently owns and runs the following websites:
Future Option Trading