How to Trade Gold Futures & Options
What is a commodity futures contract?
A commodity futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a particular commodity at a future date. The price and the amount of the commodity are fixed at the time of the agreement (purchase / sale). Similar to trading stocks, commodity futures contracts trade on regulated futures exchanges such as the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) or the ICE (Intercontinental Exchange). These contracts typically can be bought and sold throughout the duration of the contract. The majority of commodity futures contracts are liquidated prior to the delivery / expiration date.
A commodity futures option gives the purchaser the right to buy or sell a particular futures contract at a future date for a particular price. These contracts can also be bought and sold throughout the duration of the contract’s term.
Commodity futures & options are bought and sold for both speculative and hedging purposes.
With limited exceptions, commodity futures and options must be traded through futures brokers who are registered with the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) and NFA (National Futures Association).
The Futures Contract:
COMEX Gold futures – ticker symbol: GC.
COMEX Gold futures represent the world’s leading benchmark futures contract for gold prices. The contract offers superior liquidity, trading the equivalent of nearly 27 million ounces daily.
Gold futures have many uses…
- Portfolio diversification
- Safe haven asset in times of uncertainty
- Inflation hedging
- As a currency
Gold futures make it easy to take part in today’s gold markets, which can be very responsive to world events — delivering opportunities in nearly all market conditions.
Trading futures & options.
To start trading COMEX Gold futures & options, you will first need to open a futures trading account…
Once you’ve opened an account, you will have access to our trading platform (you may also phone your orders in to our 24 hours trade desk).
All futures & options contracts have symbols which are used to identify the contracts you wish to trade. For COMEX Gold, the root symbols are…
As these are ‘futures’ contracts, there will be contracts available to trade with different months & years. Many traders will choose to trade the most active month, also known as the “front” month, as this will typically be the contract with the most trading volume.
When placing an order, you will identify the exact contract you wish to trade by appending the month and year codes to the root symbol. For example, if you wish to trade an August 2020 COMEX Gold futures contract, the full symbol will be: GC.Q20
In this example, GC is the root symbol (a period is then inserted), Q is the month code for August and 20 is the last two digits of the contract year. A period is always used between the root symbol and the month/year code.
When trading futures and options, you can either go long (buy) if you think prices will rise or go short (sell) if you think prices will drop.
To enter a futures contract trade, we will enter the following information into the trading platform.
• Number of contracts to be traded
• Trade direction – Buy 0r Sell
• Exact contract symbol – i.e. GC.Q20
• Order Type: Market, Limit or Stop
• Order Price (if Limit or Stop order)
• Order Duration: Day (current trading session) or GTC (Good Till Canceled)
Once your order has been entered, our trading platform will give you a ticket number for the order as well as a notification when the order gets filled. If/when the order is executed, you will then have either a long or short position depending on the Trade Direction you chose. You can modify or cancel any working order prior to it being filled or expiring.
Determining Profit or Loss:
The COMEX Gold futures contract trades in $0.10 price increments. As each contract is equal to 100 troy ounces of gold, a $0.10 price move equates to $10.00 ($0.10 x 100). If Gold prices were to move up or down $1.00 per ounce, that would equate to $100.00 +/-.
For this example, let’s assume you went long (bought) one (1) August 2020 COMEX Gold futures contract at a price of 1695.5. If Aug’20 COMEX Gold futures prices were to rise to 1700.0, that would be a 4.5 gain or $450 (4.5 x 100). Conversely, if Aug’20 COMEX Gold prices dropped to 1690.5, that would be a 5.0 loss or $500 (5.0 x 100).
Please note, when calculating profits or losses, you must also take into account commissions and associated trade fees to determine your net profit or loss.
How much money do I need to trade?
When trading commodity futures contracts, the futures exchanges will set what are called Margin Requirements for each commodity. Margins in futures trading is NOT similar to margins in stock/equity trading. Think of margin requirements as a performance bond. The dollar amount you must have available in your account in order to trade one particular commodity futures contract. To view the current, initial margin requirements for COMEX Gold (or any other major futures contract), please visit our Margin Requirements web page. You’ll find the margin requirement for this contract under the ‘Metals’ section of the table.
Our Futures Margins Requirements web page will show all of the current margin requirements needed for trading one contract – either for position trading or Day-Trading. The Initial & Maintenance margin requirements are for position trading. Position trading refers to holding a futures contract for longer than one day (trading session).
We also offer Day-Trade margins. Day-Trade margins are typically set at 25% or less of the initial margin requirement and allow futures traders to participate in a given futures contract just for the currents day’s trading session with less funds. When Day-Trading, you must liquidate all open positions by the close of the current trading session or have the available funds in your account for the full, initial margin requirement to avoid a margin call.
*Please Note: Margin requirements are subject to change without notice from the futures exchanges.
Take the Next Step…
If you’re ready to get started trading commodity futures, the next step is to open your trading account. Click the following button to access our New Accounts web page…