Trading Commodities

When people talk about trading commodities, the majority of them are not actually buying one tonne of sugar and then selling it a week later.

Commodity Trading

Commodities are commonly traded using derivative tools such as futures. Buying a futures contract of an underlying commodity means you are buying the right to buy the commodity at a certain price at a certain future date. In the meantime, the actual price of the commodity goes up and down from day to day. This fluctuation makes the futures contract either go up or down in price depending on which direction the underlying commodity's price goes.

The Commodity Market

Commodities are traded internationally, and are traded on various exchanges around the world. Examples of these include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Australian Securities Exchange and the Tokyo Commodity Exchange. These exchanges act as marketplaces where commodity futures contracts can be traded and exercised.

The prices of commodities rise and fall. Some are cyclical, while others depend on the current economic outlook and political circumstances. For example, the price of agricultural products like corn and rice fluctuates depending on the time of year, and also on the year's harvest.

On the other hand, commodities such as crude oil are very dependent on economic and political situations. For example, if there's political instability such as war or government problems in the Middle East (where most of the oil producers are), the price of crude oil would rise. And the price would rise if the economy and industry are strong, and energy consumption is high; and vice versa.

Why trade Commodities?

The cyclical and trending natures of commodities provide investors with the opportunity to trade in commodity futures. Investors are able to earn from trading commodity futures by being able to predict the cycles and profiting during economic and political upheavals.

Commodity futures can also be traded to hedge against the chance that the underlying commodity doesn't produce expected output in the current cycle. Companies whose business involves those commodities would then hedge against that and earn some money from commodity futures eventhough their products don't sell well.

For investors and casual traders, commodity trading represents another method of trading other than shares or currency. The risks and rewards are similar, differentiated by the underlying commodities being traded.

If you are interested in commodity trading, you will need to do some research on the commodity you want to focus on, and analyse how its price varies depending on annual cycles as well and political and economic changes.

                      Commodity trading is a battle between return and risk. Because of the leverage involved, you can achieve a higher rate of return than from most other forms of investment, but at a higher risk. Commodity trading is speculative, involves a high degree of risk, and is designed only for sophisticated investors who are able to bear the loss of more than their entire investment.

You should keep in mind that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance. Commodity trading is just one step in solving the complex agriculture problems. Interestingly the concept of futures trading started from farming when a French wine merchant started locking prices for his wine produce even before his grapes were ready.

Commodity trading is speculating on the future price movements of the basic raw materials on which global trade is based.
Commodity trading is a risky venture and in order to produce profits takes some real education and a sound trading system. Most commodity traders seem to fight the markets in an attempt to gain profits quickly only to find the market to continue sideways or travel in the opposite direction.

Commodity trading is based on leverage, and the power of leverage is what makes people rich. Commodity trading is the one area of the financial markets where any person with tenacity, risk capital, and discipline can be highly successful. BUT there is also considerable risk of loss, particularly for the uneducated or misinformed.

Commodity trading is simply buying commodities (such as gold, or silver or platinum) as a tangible asset. It is only as risky as you want to make it according to the amount of leverage that you use. Commodity trading is a zero sum or cash business. Your trading account is settled at the end of each trading day with your trading account balance changing daily.

Obviously, unlike having money in a CD, this type of investment can lose as much or more than is gained. Another advantage of using commodities is that the commissions are much lower than with other investing, such as in mutual funds. Obviously, if you run out of money you will be forced out of the market and will lose the lion's share of your capital allocated for that trade. In an extreme situation, such as if wheat was linked to cancer in humans, then obviously if we were long wheat we would most likely get out and take the loss.

Medium Term Notes

Futures trading is economically beneficial because it facilitates better production planning in the agriculture and agro-based industries. In these sectors it is also utilised as a hedging device against violent movement in the price of commodities over a period of time which, in the case of agricultural produce, stretches over crop seasons, often from sowing to harvesting time. Futures trading grew by leaps and bounds making the most of the bull-run witnessed globally. Fueled by the rally in equity markets, stock market players jumped into commodity markets toleverage on the all round boom.

Future trading includes widely traded commodities like coffee, oil, gold, sugar or financial instruments like stock market indices, bonds, or currencies. Futures and options markets are risk management tools, helping to offset the exposure of contracting to supply a given amount of commodity ahead of harvest time. The commodity exchanges in practice seem to be less a way to spread risk, and more a way to concentrate profits for those who know the most about a market.

Futures contracts allow speculators the right to buy or sell a specified quantity of a commodity at a contracted price before an expiration date. Less than 3% of all futures contracts result in physical delivery of any commodity, the majority of all contracts are liquidated before expiration.

Do not try to trade commodities without a good foundation of commodity market knowledge. In getting started it is best to focus on just one or two commodities. That will be enough to keep you good and busy for a long while.

                    Commodity Trading is strictly speaking the trading of physical commodities - such as soyabeans, wheat, corn, gold, silver, cattle, oil etc. - or their futures contracts on the established commodity exchanges.

Farmers use commodity trading to lock in favorable prices prior to an ensuing harvest. Hence, there are real commercial reasons for trading in commodities. However, they are also traded for pure speculation by private traders seeking to make acommodity trading profit by speculating in the price movement over their chosen time-frame.

More than any other type of speculation, such as forex or stock trading, commodity markets involve a very high degree of seasonality. Hence, it is important that the trader be very aware of the underlying cycles affecting the market in question.

That said, commodity trading can be done successfully by giving a very high degree of emphasis to the price charts alone. The commodities trade extremely well according to technical analysis methods. For example, Fibonacci price retracements and time cycle analysis work extremely well on commodity charts. So too do other technical indicators such as moving averages, price gaps, support and resistance points, trendlines and so on.

Trading commodities can be an extremely volatile and unpredictable business because these markets are known for their sudden and sustained price surges and collapses. Compare a long-term commodity chart of something like soybeans or oil to any stock index and you will see the difference. Hence, it is vital incommodity trading that you are extremely disciplined in your approach and employ strict money management rules. A good stop loss order, placed in the market at the time you place your trade, is a must.

Traders also play the spreads between commodities, which is an extremely popular form of commodity trading, and which effectively multiplies the range of profit opportunities hugely. Examples of spreads is the wheat-corn spread, where traders speculate on the relative price of one to the other. Other spread opportunities occur in the price differentials between different delivery months of the same commodities'futures contracts . Hence, you might buy the contract nearer to expiration and sell the one further out with the expectation that long-term prices of that commodity will fall with respect to near term prices.

Once you also realize that there are active options contracts in all the major instruments, it becomes clear that commodity trading is a very desirable niche within the universe of speculation.

As with all forms of trading, mental and financial discipline are key factors to success in commodity trading. Given their extreme volatility, it is paramount that you have a proven method before you ever speculate a single dollar in these often unpredictable markets.