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Terminology

 

Bear Market: A market in which prices generally are declining over a period of months or years. Opposite of Bull Market.

Bull Market: A market in which prices generally are rising over a period of months or years. Opposite of Bear Market.

Broker: A person paid a fee or commission for executing buy or sell orders for a customer. In commodity futures trading, the term may refer to: (1) Floor Broker — a person who actually executes orders on the trading floor of an exchange; (2) Account Executive or Associated Person — the person who deals with customers in the offices of Futures Commission Merchants; or (3) the Futures Commission Merchant.

Buyer's Market: A condition of the market in which there is an abundance of goods available and hence buyers can afford to be selective and may be able to buy at less than the price that previously prevailed. See Seller's Market.

Cash Settlement: A method of settling certain futures or option contracts whereby the seller (or short) pays the buyer (or long) the cash value of the commodity traded according to a procedure specified in the contract. Also called Financial Settlement, especially in energy derivatives.

CFTC: See Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Close: The exchange-designated period at the end of the trading session during which all transactions are considered made "at the close." See Call.

Closing-Out: Liquidating an existing long or short futures or option position with an equal and opposite transaction. Also known as Offset.

Closing Price (or Range): The price (or price range) recorded during trading that takes place in the final period of a trading session’s activity that is officially designated as the "close."

Commission: (1) The charge made by a futures commission merchant for buying and selling futures contracts; or (2) the fee charged by a futures broker for the execution of an order. Note: when capitalized, the Commission usually refers to the CFTC.

Commodity: A commodity, as defined in the Commodity Exchange Act, includes the agricultural commodities enumerated in Section 1a(4) of the Commodity Exchange Act and all other goods and articles, except onions as provided in Public Law 85-839 (7 U.S.C. § 13-1), a 1958 law that banned futures trading in onions, and all services, rights, and interests in which contracts for future delivery are presently or in the future dealt in.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC): The Federal regulatory agency established by the Commodity Futures Trading Act of 1974 to administer the Commodity Exchange Act.

Commodity Pool: An investment trust, syndicate, or similar form of enterprise operated for the purpose of trading commodity futures or option contracts. Typically thought of as an enterprise engaged in the business of investing the collective or “pooled” funds of multiple participants in trading commodity futures or options, where participants share in profits and losses on a pro rata basis. See CFTC Backgrounder : Commodity Trading Advisors and Commodity Pool Operators.

Commodity Pool Operator (CPO): A person engaged in a business similar to an investment trust or a syndicate and who solicits or accepts funds, securities, or property for the purpose of trading commodity futures contracts or commodity options. The CPO either itself makes trading decisions on behalf of the pool or engages a commodity trading advisor to do so. See CFTC Backgrounder: Commodity Trading Advisors and Commodity Pool Operators.

Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA): A person who, for pay, regularly engages in the business of advising others as to the value of commodity futures or options or the advisability of trading in commodity futures or options, or issues analyses or reports concerning commodity futures or options. See CFTC Backgrounder: Commodity Trading Advisors and Commodity Pool Operators.

Contract: (1) A term of reference describing a unit of trading for a commodity future or option; (2) an agreement to buy or sell a specified commodity, detailing the amount and grade of the product and the date on which the contract will mature and become deliverable.

Controlled Account: An account for which trading is directed by someone other than the owner. Also called a Managed Account or a Discretionary Account.

CPO: See Commodity Pool Operator.

CTA: See Commodity Trading Advisor.

Discretionary Account: An arrangement by which the holder of an account gives written power of attorney to someone else, often a Commodity Trading Advisor, to buy and sell without prior approval of the holder; often referred to as a "managed account" or controlled account.

E-Mini: A mini contract that is traded exclusively on an electronic trading facility. E-Mini is a trademark of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Equity: As used on a trading account statement, refers to the residual dollar value of a futures or option trading account, assuming it was liquidated at current prices.

Exchange: A central marketplace with established rules and regulations where buyers and sellers meet to trade futures and options contracts or securities. Exchanges include designated contract markets and derivatives transaction execution facilities.

Fill: The execution of an order.

Final Settlement Price: The price at which a cash-settled futures contract is settled at maturity, pursuant to a procedure specified by the exchange.

Floor Broker: A person with exchange trading privileges who, in any pit, ring, post, or other place provided by an exchange for the meeting of persons similarly engaged, executes for another person any orders for the purchase or sale of any commodity for future delivery.

Floor Trader: A person with exchange trading privileges who executes his own trades by being personally present in the pit or ring for futures trading. See Local.

Futures: See Futures Contract.

Futures Commission Merchant (FCM): Individuals, associations, partnerships, corporations, and trusts that solicit or accept orders for the purchase or sale of any commodity for future delivery on or subject to the rules of any exchange and that accept payment from or extend credit to those whose orders are accepted.

Futures Contract: An agreement to purchase or sell a commodity for delivery in the future: (1) at a price that is determined at initiation of the contract; (2) that obligates each party to the contract to fulfill the contract at the specified price; (3) that is used to assume or shift price risk; and (4) that may be satisfied by delivery or offset.

Futures Price: (1) Commonly held to mean the price of a commodity for future delivery that is traded on a futures exchange; (2) the price of any futures contract.

Give Up: A contract executed by one broker for the client of another broker that the client orders to be turned over to the second broker. The broker accepting the order from the customer collects a fee from the carrying broker for the use of the facilities. Often used to consolidate many small orders or to disperse large ones.

Hedge Fund: A private investment fund or pool that trades and invests in various assets such as securities, commodities, currency, and derivatives on behalf of its clients, typically wealthy individuals. Some Commodity Pool Operators operate hedge funds.

Initial Deposit: See Initial Margin.

Initial Margin: Customers' funds put up as security for a guarantee of contract fulfillment at the time a futures market position is established. See Original Margin.

Long: (1) One who has bought a futures contract to establish a market position; (2) a market position that obligates the holder to take delivery; (3) one who owns an inventory of commodities. See Short.

Maintenance Margin: See Margin.

Managed Account: See Controlled Account and Discretionary Account.

Margin: The amount of money or collateral deposited by a customer with his broker, by a broker with a clearing member, or by a clearing member with a clearing organization. The margin is not partial payment on a purchase. Also called Performance Bond. (1) Initial margin is the amount of margin required by the broker when a futures position is opened; (2) Maintenance margin is an amount that must be maintained on deposit at all times. If the equity in a customer's account drops to or below the level of maintenance margin because of adverse price movement, the broker must issue a margin call to restore the customer's equity to the initial level. See Variation Margin. Exchanges specify levels of initial margin and maintenance margin for each futures contract, but Futures Commission Merchants may require their customers to post margin at higher levels than those specified by the exchange. Futures margin is determined by the SPAN margining system, which takes into account all positions in a customer’s portfolio.

Margin Call: (1) A request from a brokerage firm to a customer to bring margin deposits up to initial levels; (2) a request by the clearing organization to a clearing member to make a deposit of original margin, or a daily or intra-day variation margin payment because of adverse price movement, based on positions carried by the clearing member.

Mark-to-Market: Part of the daily cash flow system used by US futures exchanges to maintain a minimum level of margin equity for a given futures or option contract position by calculating the gain or loss in each contract position resulting from changes in the price of the futures or option contracts at the end of each trading session. These amounts are added or subtracted to each account balance.

Mini: Refers to a futures contract that has a smaller contract size than an otherwise identical futures contract.

Net Asset Value (NAV): The value of each unit of participation in a commodity pool.

Net Position: The difference between the open long contracts and the open short contracts held by a trader in any one commodity.

NFA: National Futures Association.

Open Trade Equity: The unrealized gain or loss on open futures positions.

Paper Profit or Loss: The profit or loss that would be realized if open contracts were liquidated as of a certain time or at a certain price.

Performance Bond: See Margin.

Position: An interest in the market, either long or short, in the form of one or more open contracts.

Risk/Reward Ratio: The relationship between the probability of loss and profit. This ratio is often used as a basis for trade selection or comparison.

Security: Generally, a transferable instrument representing an ownership interest in a corporation (equity security or stock) or the debt of a corporation, municipality, or sovereign. Other forms of debt such as mortgages can be converted into securities. Certain derivatives on securities (e.g., options on equity securities) are also considered securities for the purposes of the securities laws. Security Futures Products are considered to be both securities and futures products. Futures contracts on Broad-Based Securities Indexes are not considered securities.

Seller's Market: A condition of the market in which there is a scarcity of goods available and hence sellers can obtain better conditions of sale or higher prices. See Buyer's Market.

Settlement: The act of fulfilling the delivery requirements of the futures contract.

Settlement Price: The daily price at which the clearing organization clears all trades and settles all accounts between clearing members of each contract month. Settlement prices are used to determine both margin calls and invoice prices for deliveries. The term also refers to a price established by the exchange to even up positions which may not be able to be liquidated in regular trading.

Short: (1) The selling side of an open futures contract; (2) a trader whose net position in the futures market shows an excess of open sales over open purchases. See Long.

Treasury Bills (or T-Bills): Short-term zero coupon US government obligations, generally issued with various maturities of up to one year.

Underlying Commodity: The cash commodity underlying a futures contract. Also, the commodity or futures contract on which a commodity option is based, and which must be accepted or delivered if the option is exercised.

Zero Coupon: Refers to a debt instrument that does not make coupon payments, but, rather, is issued at a discount to par and redeemed at par at maturity