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What is backtesting?

Analytical financial theories and trading strategies can be “backtested” by applying them to historical data. Backtesting is to simulate what it would have been like to use a certain strategy or indicator in the past. Because markets are more complicated than a simple algorithm, such as an assumed future rate of return, it is preferable and somewhat more dramatic to use actual historical data for testing. There is an abundance of historical market data available to those who would like to use it for backtesting a theory, strategy, or indicator. Continue reading...

What are index futures?

Index futures are futures contracts written on an index in which a large position can be held with a relatively small margin requirement. Index futures can be used for hedging or speculation. A "good faith" initial margin deposit (also called a performance bond) of a fraction of the contract size is all that is required to hold a substantial position, with a notional value worth significantly more than the amount invested. Continue reading...

What are currency futures?

Currency futures are derivative contracts that trade on regulated exchanges around the world. Like forward contracts, they name a specific amount of one currency which is to be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Futures name a specific amount of one currency which will be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Like other derivative contracts that trade on exchanges (e.g., options), futures are transferable and are traded as the market calls for up until their expiration. Investors can short them (sell to open) and hold them long (buy to open), and can close their positions as they see fit without riding out the contract to the expiration date. Continue reading...

What are futures contracts?

Futures contracts constitute a binding agreement to trade a commodity, share, or instrument at a future date at an agreed-upon price. They are auctioned on regulated futures exchanges. Futures contracts are used primarily to deal with agricultural assets and natural resources but have come into use for anything that can be commoditized, including financial instruments and technological resources. Continue reading...

What are futures markets?

Futures markets are the formal exchanges on which futures contracts are bought and sold for commodities, financial products, and interest rates. Futures markets constitute a large part of the financial system and are an attempt by participants to hedge against some of the volatility and risks to which they might be exposed as time passes, especially where contracts await resolution or payment. Futures contracts might be created for financial instruments, commodities, and other derivative interests. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and the Eurex Exchange are large parts of the international network of futures markets and clearing houses. Continue reading...

What is “contango?”

Contango is when the price of a futures contract is higher than the current spot price of a commodity, and the expected future spot price. Some contango falls within the normal range, but too much is generally unfavorable. Contango means that the price of a futures contract has become inflated beyond the expected price range of a commodity. Backwardation is the word for the opposite of contango, in which futures contracts are being sold for less than the current spot price and below the probable future spot price. Some backwardation and contango is part of life and considered normal, but contango markets can have a particularly negative impact on some ETFs. Continue reading...

What is commodity pice risk?

Agricultural and mining businesses are exposed to commodity price risk, which is the possibility that the price of the commodity will change unfavorably by the time the commodity is ready to be delivered. They avoid unnecessary risk by using futures contracts, forward contracts, and possibly other derivative instruments. Commodity price risk means that an agricultural or mining business might not be able to predict the revenue that they can generate from the production or extraction of commodities. Continue reading...

What is a resistance line?

A resistance line is the inverse of a support line and represents the glass ceiling through which a security price has difficulty breaking through. Resistance lines are calculated as part of analysis methods which use moving averages and standard deviation, or similar calculations, to put a range of probability on the expected movement of a security price, with the resistance line representing the top of that range. Continue reading...

What is the commodity futures trading commission?

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is an independent government agency that regulates the futures market. Futures are not considered securities, so the CFTC has jurisdiction over such exchanges while the SEC does not. The CFTC is the regulatory authority for the futures trade. This includes futures on currency, indexes, and stocks. Futures are not technically considered securities, because a security is defined as a contract that depends on the performance of a third party, while futures contracts only depend on two people. Any options that stem from futures are considered securities, however. Continue reading...

What are Resistance and Support Levels?

In technical analysis, a level of resistance is an imaginary barrier that keeps the price of a security from rising beyond a certain level. Conversely, a level of support is an imaginary barrier that keeps the price of a security from falling beyond a certain level. A resistance line can be thought of as the theoretical glass ceiling that a security price has difficulty breaking through. Resistance lines (along with moving averages, standard deviation, and similar calculations) are used to put a range of probability on the expected movement of a security price, with the resistance line representing the top of that range. Continue reading...

Should I Use Double or Triple ETFs?

Double or triple ETFs can be very volatile investments, so an investor should be aware of the risks involved. By using future contracts to gain maximum leverage, ETFs known as Double or Triple ETFs offer magnified exposure to specific indices. Double and triple ETFs provide double or triple returns, but also incur double or triple losses. For this reason, double and triple ETFs are an extremely risky investment, Day traders and institutional investors make use of these products as short-term hedging strategies or speculative bets. Continue reading...

What is the commodity market?

The commodity market is an international network of exchanges which trade commodity spot contracts, futures contracts, and derivatives. The largest commodities exchange in the world is the CME Group in Chicago. Futures are a large part of commodities trading, and the commodities futures market includes currency futures and swaps, index futures and single-stock futures, and other derivatives based on futures contracts. Continue reading...

What is triple witching?

Triple witching hour is when three types of derivatives expire at once, which happens once every quarter in the US. It typically results in irregular or volatile movements in the markets. When stock market index futures, stock market index options and stock options all expire at the same time, the hour before close is called the Triple Witching Hour. This occurs on the third Friday of March, June, September, and December in the United States between 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM Eastern time. Continue reading...

What is Form 6781: Gains and Losses from Section 1256 Contracts and Straddles?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 6781 is used to calculate and report gains and losses due from Section 1256 contracts, which covers futures on commodities and indexes, as well as their derivatives, and from straddles, which are options strategies defined under Section 1092. 6781 is used to report positions in futures and options at the end of the year even if no gains or losses were realized through trades. The value of the positions will be marked-to-market at the end of the year, and these will serve to compute the gains and losses for these purposes. Continue reading...

What is the CME?

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, now known as the CME group, is the largest derivatives exchange in the world, and one of the oldest. It has historically served as a major international exchange for commodities futures and options on those futures, along with the Chicago Board of Trade and the New York Mercantile Exchange, which are now part of the CME Group. The CME Group is now comprised of what used to be several futures exchanges: CME, the CBOT, and the NYMEX. Historically these markets traded in traditional commodities and their futures, and Chicago was the most likely location for such an exchange, being at the hub of the Midwest. Continue reading...

What is a commodity?

A commodity is usually a raw material or agricultural good which has an extremely high demand and very little price differentiation between competitors. If a good will not increase or decrease significantly in quality regardless of who brings it to market, and the demand is very high (such as for a good used in the production of many other products) it might be considered a commodity. Examples would be oil, silver, gold, steel and wheat, but a full list would be very extensive. Continue reading...

What is an 'expiration date' in reference to option trading?

An ‘expiration date’ refers to the time when an option contract must either be acted upon by the owner (buying or selling the security in question) or left to expire. With derivatives such as options and futures, there will be an expiry, or expiration date in the contract, after which they expire worthlessly. Most options contracts will expire in 3, 6 or 9 months from when they are generated, and they all share the same expiration day of the month on their contracts in the United States, which is the 3rd Friday of the month at 4 PM. Continue reading...

What is a Buying Hedge?

Hedging against future price risk was the main reason Futures contracts came into being. If an investor or a business knows that they need to acquire an asset or security at a future date, they might go ahead and agree to a price and have it in writing on a Futures contract. A futures contract means that an item has been sold at a stated price, and only awaits settlement at a future date. This will protect them from the risk that the price will move unfavorably in the future, and it will allow them to balance books and plan a budget with more certainty. Futures contracts are standardized and traded on exchanges. Continue reading...

What are Double and Triple ETFs?

Double and triple ETFs are also known as leveraged ETFs, and their goal is to magnify the performance of the index they follow. Using futures contracts and other derivative instruments, 2x or 3x ETFs attempt to magnify the performance of an index, with the goal of achieving the result daily. Because they also compound daily, they are not usually held for more than a few days. These are also called leveraged ETFs because they use margin, futures contracts, and other derivative instruments to give an investor this magnified exposure. They give you two or three times (respectively) the profits but also two or three times the losses, so one must be very cautious when dealing with them. Continue reading...

What is a commodities futures contract?

Commodities Futures are one of the most highly traded securities in the world, and it is partially because nothing has to be delivered by the participants as in a spot-trading market. Futures can be purchased on margin, opening up large positions, long or short, and if a trader finds a place to exit before the settlement date of the contract, the trader will buy/sell to close his or her position, and the exchange will regard the trader’s position as flat, and nonexistent for all intents and purposes. Continue reading...

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