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Trading methods for active futures and opportunities traders

  • Posted Date: December 21, 2022

Futures and options are variants of stocks speculated on the share market and represent a contractual obligation for investing stock and index at a specific price and level at a date in the future. Such derivatives protect the trader against future volatility in the share market by defining the trade price. However, futures and options trading is frequently much more complicated and volatile.

Before investing in futures and options, it is usually better to understand how they operate, even though many individuals trade in them using a trader.

Highlights of futures trading

  • Futures trading allows investors to bet or hedge on the direction of the price of a commodity, securities, or financial instrument.
  • Futures contracts are financial instruments wherein a buyer and seller agree to exchange an item at a specified price at a future date.
  • Stock indexes, currencies, energy, cryptocurrencies, cereals, forestry, interest rates, and livestock are essential futures markets.
  • Accessibility to diversification, leverage, and hedging are significant benefits of futures trading, whereas overleveraging and managing expiration dates create possible obstacles.
  • Futures trading platforms ought to be user-friendly, provide a variety of order types, and have competitive fees and commissions.
  • A fundamental futures trading plan should contain entry and exit methods and risk management guidelines.

Understanding the basics of futures trading

Futures contracts, as their name suggests, are financial instruments in which a seller and a buyer agree to swap an item at a predetermined price at a future date. Most futures contracts do not lead to the physical delivery of an item; instead, they are utilised by investors to trade on the value of a security or even to hedge portfolio risk.

Futures trading allows traders to speculate on vast assets and commodities. Stock indexes, cryptocurrencies, energy, interest rates, forests, currencies, cereals, and livestock are essential futures markets.

Understanding the differences between futures and options

Even though these dual stock derivatives share many similarities, they differ significantly. They derive their value from underlying investments such as shares, commodities, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and stock market indices. All represent future transactions.

Here are some notable distinctions between the two:

Futures contracts represent an obligation to trade that must be settled by the stipulated date, unlike options, which provide the buyer the right, yet not the duty, to exercise the contract.

  1. Date of trade

A holder of futures must exchange the underlying security on the agreed-upon date. Although there are changes in the case of options, you can exercise various choices at any time before the expiration date. However, there are a few distinctions between exercising options on indexes and options on equities and differing restrictions for various markets.

In India, for instance, an index option is executed on the expiration date, whereas a stock option can be exercised anywhere before expiration.

  1. Advance payments

By engaging in a futures contract, there aren’t any up-front fees. Instead, payments are made only when the futures contract is squared off on the designated date. On the other hand, futures contracts demand you to place up a “margin,” a specific percentage of the trade’s value. Consequently, leverage multiplies both earnings and losses.

For instance, suppose you purchase 100,000 INR worth of equities on the futures marketplace with a 20% margin (which is., INR 20,000 in this example). To complete this agreement, you must deposit 20,000 INR with your broker. If the stock appreciates 10%, you will have made a profit of INR 10,000 on an initial investment of INR 20,000. Therefore, your profit margin is 50% as opposed to 10% if you had purchased the stock. The same logic holds for your losses. Additionally, you may be compelled to deposit an additional margin if your losses increase.

However, you will be required to pay a premium to purchase an option. The option sellers earn the premium because if you decide not to use the option, you will forfeit the premium paid.

  1. Risk

In the event of a price decrease, you may choose not to exercise your options. However, future transactions must occur on the designated date, regardless of price. Therefore you will have different flexibility. Therefore, options lower the chance of loss in theory. However, in actuality, 97% of options expire without a trade. Therefore, traders in options are much more likely than others to lose their premium.

How to select a futures trading platform?

When picking a futures trading platform, investors need to check that it is user-friendly, offers a variety of order types to facilitate risk management, and has competitive costs and commissions.

Advanced traders may desire a trading platform that allows application programming interface (API) entry to facilitate algorithmic trading. Active traders can choose a futures platform with such a mobile trading app that enables trade execution and position management on the fly.

Today, the majority of online brokerages, as well as trading platforms, offer futures trading. To start trading in these markets, you should submit a request and receive approval.

Investing in futures and options: Trading Methods

Futures and options transactions require a brokerage account, not a Demat account. Therefore, the best method is to open an account with a brokerage that might trade on your behalf.

  1. Derivative trading in the stock market

Both the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Bombay Stock Exchange provide derivatives trading (BSE). The NSE enables futures and options trading on more than one hundred equities and nine key indices. As with the derivative with greater leverage, futures are likely to move more quickly than options. Three months is the most extended period for a futures contract. Traders will often pay just the difference between the contract and market prices in an average futures and options transaction. Consequently, you are not required to pay the actual value of the underlying asset.

  1. Derivative trading in commodities

Commodity exchanges, including Multi Commodity Exchange or National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Limited, are among the most common markets for trading futures and options (MCX). Due to the extreme volatility of these marketplaces, many derivatives are trading in commodities. As a result, commodity prices can fluctuate significantly, and futures and options allow traders to hedge against a potential decline.

In addition, it permits speculators to profit from commodities whose prices are anticipated to rise. Whereas the ordinary investor is familiar with futures and options trading on the stock market, commodities training requires a little more experience.

Things to consider before entering into futures and options trading?

Understanding the behaviour of the market is necessary for derivatives trading. However, even when trading through a broker, some considerations must be considered.

  1. Don’t fall for the leverage

Futures and options assets are typically leveraged highly, with futures typically being more challenging to sell than options. You are less likely to hear that margins can function in either direction. As a result, you may be required to sell below the market price or purchase above the market price.

In other words, the probability of profit is conceptually equivalent to the probability of incurring a loss. Options may appear to be the safer choice; however, as noted above, you are much more likely to defer trade and lose the premium value, resulting in a net loss.

  1. Maintaining your risk limits

Your risk appetite is the proportion of risk you are ready to assume to achieve your goals. The goal behind trading in derivatives is to minimise risk by setting the price in advance. In actuality, a trader will constantly seek out a price that offers substantial profits. However, one investment axiom holds in this instance: the more significant the profit, the greater the risk. In other words, before agreeing to any price, consider the level of risk you are willing to assume.

  1. Configuration of stop-loss and take-profit levels

Establishing stop-loss and take-profit levels is a standard method for seasoned traders to manage their trades. A stop-loss is the greatest loss you are willing to accept, whereas a take-profit is the maximum return you will accept. Despite the seeming contradiction, a take-profit point allows you to establish a price at which the stock can stabilise before plummeting. These are the two price ranges that a trader operates inside.

  1. Margins and market volatility

Although you may appear to be hedging your bets and ensuring solid margins on a futures and options trade, you must remember that these margins are subject to market fluctuation. In a volatile market, if your trade is incurring a significant notional loss, you will be expected to swiftly make a more significant margin deposit or risk the broker closing out your position and wiping out your current margin.

  1. Consider the expenses

Demat accounts are not required for derivatives trading. It is frequently regarded as a more cost-effective choice. However, be aware of the reduced brokerage. Stamp duty, statutory charges, goods, and services tax (GST), and securities transaction tax are additional expenses (STT). But the actual cost increase stems from the volume of trade. Multiple transactions occur quickly, which multiplies the overall cost of trading derivatives. Consequently, monitoring the ratio of your transactions to your profits is always recommended.

Knowing the benefits of futures trading

  1. Leverage

Leverage is an investing technique that increases the possible return on investment by utilising borrowed funds, specifically various financial instruments or borrowed resources. Futures are handled on margin with leverage, enabling investors to hold bigger positions with a smaller initial investment. However, this can prove to be a double-edged blade if the asset’s price shifts in the opposite direction. As a result, while trading futures contracts, traders can lose much more than their initial margin.

  1. Diversification

Futures trading on everything from stock indices to orange juice allows investors to diversify their portfolios across numerous asset classes.

  1. After-Hours Business

Futures enable traders to capitalise on opportunities from around the clock.

For instance, a trader may seek to purchase Nasdaq 100 Index futures contracts when numerous mega-cap technology stocks post better-than-expected earnings just after the market closes.

  1. Hedging

Futures allow investors to secure unrealized profits and mitigate potential losses. In addition, the vast number of Futures products enables traders to hedge against the broader market, specific industries, and particular commodities at a reasonable cost.

How to develop a futures trading plan?

As with stock trading or other financial assets, investors need to build a trading strategy for Futures that includes exit and entry methods and risk management guidelines. Using technical analysis as an instance, a trader may opt to open a long futures position on a golden cross signal, which occurs when the 50-day simple exponential moving (SMA) crosses over the 200-day SMA. The trading plan may also include a stop-loss system set 5% below the entry price to mitigate downside risk.

On the other hand, a futures trading strategy that relies on fundamental analysis may create sell-or-buy signals based on crop or energy inventory levels. For example, a trader can short an oil futures contract when weekly oil inventories build at a quicker rate than analysts anticipated. Indeed, many futures traders may include combined technical and fundamental analysis within their trading strategies.

There are generally three futures trading plans:

  • Long: Purchase futures and profit while prices rise.
  • Short: Selling futures contracts to profit from falling prices.
  • Spread: Buy multiple futures contracts concurrently and profit whenever the relative price gap expands (or narrows). These can be based on the same underlying asset but with separate expiration dates or even on futures for two interrelated commodities, such as crude oil and gasoline.

The bottom line

Futures are derivative contracts that allow you to trade on the value of a futures asset, hedge, or commodity against existing positions. Futures can magnify your speculations by utilising leverage, resulting in higher gains and greater losses.

Futures contain expiration dates, so you must be careful to turn over or close off contracts to avoid receiving unwelcome physical commodities. To begin trading futures, you must choose a company that provides access to such markets and gain approval.

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