How It All Began
Commodity futures trading, as we know it today, came about for the first time in Japan in the 17th century, where rice was traded in future contracts. It was a period when farmers and buyers came together and decided to commit to each other future prices negotiated on suitable terms in exchange of grain for money. For example, a dealer would agree to buy a ton of rice at the end of the next month for a certain price from a farmer. This would be ideal for both parties, as the farmer would know how much he would get for his rice in advance, and the buyer could plan to raise the money he needed for the purchase. Contracts such as these became more and more popular and common, and were even used as collateral for taking loans. If the buyer could not take delivery of the rice, he could sell the contract to someone else. On the other hand, if the farmer could not deliver the goods, then he could hand over the contract to another farmer. Thus began commodity futures trading, as we know it today.
What Are Commodity Futures?
Today, most of the futures commodity trading exchanges are set up in a similar way. Members of the exchange do the actual trading on the floor. Stock stands for equity in a public company, and can be held as long as you want, whereas commodity futures trading contracts have a specified life. In the past, people used commodity futures trading methods generally to hedge risks and fluctuation in prices, or to take advantage of them, and not for actually buying into the commodity. The idea is that a contract requires delivery of the commodity within a certain predefined time period unless it becomes null and void. The person buying the commodity futures trading contract agrees to buy the specified commodity at a fixed price on a certain date. The person selling the commodity futures trading contract agrees to sell the commodity at a certain price on a certain date. As time goes on, the contract price fluctuates, and this brings about profit and loss in the trade. It is to be noted, however that, the delivery generally doesn’t take place. The contract is usually liquidated before its expiry. The entire trade is based on the idea that there will be no delivery, but we can speculate on the price of the underlying commodity at a future time to make money. Commodity futures trading is done all over the world now.
Different Types Of Commodities
There are many types of commodities that are traded in the international market. These can be very broadly categorized into the following:
• Precious metals like Gold, Platinum, Silver, etc.,
• Metals such as Aluminum, Copper, Steel, etc.,
• Agricultural products like Rice, Corn, Oils, Cotton, Wheat, etc.,
• Soft commodities such as Cocoa, Coffee, Tea, Sugar, etc.,
• Livestock like porkbellies, cattle, etc.,
• Energy commodities like Crude oil, Gasoline, Gas, etc.