PACL-FAQs and Public Notices *** Information to public on complaints *** IVRS Numbers to Contact SEBI, Head Office , Mumbai are +91 -22 -26449950/40459950
Securities and Exchange Board of India
What's New | About SEBI | RTI Act, 2005 | FAQs | Contact Us | Site Map | My SEBI
SEBI Search Advance Search
Committees | FMC (Old Website) | SAT | Careers | Tenders | Useful Links | Hindi Website
SEBI Content View Content View
SEBI User View User View
SEBI   FMC (Old Website)
Home | Commodities | FAQ


What is a futures contract?
Futures Contract is specie of forward contract. Futures are exchange - traded contracts to sell or buy standardized financial instruments or physical commodities for delivery on a specified future date at an agreed price. Futures contracts are used generally for protecting against rich of adverse price fluctuation (hedging). As the terms of the contracts are standardized, these are generally not used for merchandizing propose.
What are the commodities suitable for futures trading ?
All the commodities are not suitable for futures trading. for a commodity to be suitable for futures trading it must possess the following characteristics

i. The commodity should have a suitable demand and supply conditions i.e. volume and marketable surplus should be large.
ii. Prices should be volatile to necessitate hedging through futures price risk. As a result there would be a demand for hedging facilities.
ii. Price should be volatile to necessitate hedging through futures trading in this case persons with a spot market commitment face a price risk. As a result there would be a demand for hedging facilities.
iii. The commodity should be free from substantial control from Govt. regulations (or other bodies) imposing restrictions on supply, distribution and prices of the commodity.
iv. The commodity should be homogenous or, alternately it must be possible to specify a standard is necessary for the futures exchange to deal in standardized contracts.
v. The commodity Should be storable. In the absence of this condition arbitrage would not be possible and there would be no relationship between spot and futures markets.
How many commodities are permitted for futures trading ?
With the issue of the Notifications dated 1.4.2003 futures trading is not prohibited in any commodity. Futures trading can be conducted in any commodity subject to the approval /recognition of the Government of India. At present 113 commodities are in the regulated list i.e. these commodities have been notified under section 15 of the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act. Forward trading in these commodities can be conducted only between, with, or through members of recognized associations. The commodities other than those listed under Section 15 are conventionally referred to as ’Free’ commodities. Forward trading in these commodities can be organized by any association after obtaining a certificate of Registration from Forward Markets Commission.
How are futures prices determined?
Futures prices evolve from the interaction of bids and offers emanating from all over the country - which converge in the trading floor or the trading engine of an Exchange. The bid and offer prices are based on the expectations of prices on the maturity date.
How professionals predict prices in futures?
Two methods generally used for predicting futures prices are fundamental analysis and technical analysis. The fundamental analysis is concerned with basic supply and demand information, such as, weather patterns, carryover supplies, relevant policies of the Government and agricultural reports. Technical analysis includes analysis of movement of prices in the past. Many participants use fundamental analysis to determine the direction of the market, and technical analysis to time their entry and exist.
How professionals predict prices in futures?
Two methods generally used for predicting futures prices are fundamental analysis and technical analysis. The fundamental analysis is concerned with basic supply and demand information, such as, weather patterns, carryover supplies, relevant policies of the Government and agricultural reports. Technical analysis includes analysis of movement of prices in the past. Many participants use fundamental analysis to determine the direction of the market, and technical analysis to time their entry and exist.
How is it possible to sell a futures contract, when one doesn’t own commodity?
One doesn’t need to have the physical commodity or own a contract for the commodity to enter into a sale contract in futures market. It is simply agreeing to sell the physical commodity at a later date or selling short. It is possible to repurchase the contract before the maturity, thereby dispensing with delivery of goods.
What is long position?
In simple terms, long position is a net buy position.
What is short position?
Short position is net sold position.
What is bull spread (futures)?
In most commodities and financial derivatives market, the term refers to buying contracts maturing in nereby month, and selling the distant month contracts, to profit from the wide spread (i.e., the price difference between the two contracts) if it is larger than the cost of carry.
What is bear spread (futures)?
In most of commodities and financial derivatives market, the term refers to selling the nearby contract month, and buying the distant contract, to profit from saving in the cost of carry.
What is ’Contango’?
Contango means a situation, where futures contract prices are higher than the spot price .
When is futures contract in ’Contango’?
It arises normally when the contract matures during the same crop-season. In an well-integrated market, Contango is equal to the cost of carry viz. Interest rate on investment, loss on account of loss of weight or deterioration in quantity etc.
What is ’Backwardation’?
When the prices of spot, or contracts maturing earlier are higher than a particular futures contract, it is said to be trading at Backwardation.
When is futures contract at ’Backwardation’?
It is usual for a contract maturing in the peak season to be in backwardation during the lean period.
What is ’basis’?
It is normally calculated as cash price minus the futures price. A positive number indicates a futures discount (Backwardation) and a negative number, a futures premium (Contango). Unless otherwise specified, the price of the nearby futures contract month is generally used to calculate the basis.
What is cash settlement?
It is a process for performing a futures contract by payment of money difference rather than by delivering the physical commodity or instrument representing such physical commodity (like, warehouse receipt)
What is offset?
It refers to the liquidation of a futures contract by entering into opposite and identical contract(purchase or sale, as the case may be)
What is daily settlement price?
The daily settlement price is the price at which all the outstanding trades are settled, i.e, profits or losses, if any, are paid. The method of fixing Settlement price is prescribed in the Byelaws of the exchanges; normally it is a weighted average of prices of transactions both in spot and futures market during specified period.
What is convergence?
The difference between spot and futures contract theoretically should have declining trend over the life of a contract and tend to become zero on the date on maturity. In other words the futures and spot prices should be the same at the time of the maturity of the contract. This is known as convergence of the spot and futures prices.
Can one give delivery against futures contract?
Futures contract are contracts for delivery of goods and one can give delivery of goods against futures contracts depending upon the delivery logic of the contract design. But most of the futures contracts, the world over, are performed otherwise than by physical delivery of goods.
Why is the proportion of futures contracts resulting in delivery so low?
Futures contracts are standardized contracts and therefore various aspects of the contracts, viz., quality/grade of the goods, packing, place of delivery, etc. may not meet the specific needs of the buyers/sellers. These contracts are more suitable for price risk management and delivery is incidental on an Exchange platform to ensure that futures prices are not out of sync with the spot market prices. The standardization of the futures contracts limits its utility as a merchandising contract.
Why delivery of good is permitted when futures contract by their very nature not suitable for merchandising purposes?
The threat of delivery helps in dissuading the participants from artificially rigging up or depressing the futures prices. For example, if manipulators rig up the prices of a contract, seller may give his intention to make a delivery instead of settling his outstanding contract by entering into purchase contracts at such artificially high price.
How can one avoid delivery being imposed against outstanding purchase contracts?
The participants entering in to futures contracts have an option to liquidate their outstanding position by entering into offsetting contract, before the maturity of the contract After the liquidation of the positions (by entering in to an opposite contract) participants are not required to give/take deliveries.
Can a buyer demand delivery against futures contract?
Most of the contracts in agricultural commodities traded at the Exchanges are "Compulsory Delivery Contracts" i.e all the outstanding position on the maturity of the contracts has to compulsory result in deliveries. The failure on the part of either buyer or seller to give/take deliveries attracts penalties with are prescribed in the Bylaws, Rules and Regulations of the Exchanges give the option to seller, i.e., if the seller gives his intention to give delivery, buyers have no choice, but to accept delivery or face selling on account and/or penalty. Some of the contracts provide the buyer and seller matches the delivery takes place. The participants before entering in to a futures contracts are expected to make themselves abrast with the delivery logic of the contract as the same differs across Exchange and commodities
What is "Due Date Rate" or the Final Settlement Price?
Due Date Rate or the Final Settlement Price is the price on which all outstanding positions are settled on the maturity of the contract. DDR / FSP is the last spot price as on the expiry of the weighted average of both spot and/ or future prices of the specified number of day (s), as may defined in the Byelaws/ Rules and Regulations of Associations.
What is delivery month?
It is the specified month within which a futures contract matures.
What is delivery notice?
It is a written notice given by sellers of their intention to make delivery against outstanding short open futures positions on a particular date.
What is Warehouse Receipt?
It is a document issued by a warehouse indicating ownership of a stored commodity and specifying details in respect of some particulars, like, quality, quantity and, some times, indicating the crop season.
Are futures markets "satta" markets?
Participants in futures market include market intermediaries in the physical market, like, producers, processors, manufacturers, exporters, importers, bulk consumers etc., besides speculators. Price Risk is inherent in the physical markets. The Futures Markets Provide a platform to manage such a price risk. The speculators, who have a higher risk taking ability take this risk based on their informed understanding of the markets. Therefore There is difference between gambling and futures markets and futures markets can not be termed as "satta markets"
Why do we need speculators in futures market?
Participants in physical markets use futures market for price discovery and price risk management. In fact, in the absence of futures market, they might speculate on prices in unorganized markets. Futures market helps them to avoid speculation by entering into hedge contracts. It is however extremely unlikely for every hedger to find a hedger counterparty with matching requirements. The hedgers intend to shift price risk, which they can only if there are participants willing to accept the risk. Speculators are such participants who are willing to take risk of hedgers in the expectation of making profit. Speculators provide liquidity to the market, therefore, it is difficult to imagine a futures market functioning without speculators.
What is the difference between a speculator and gambler?
Speculators are not gamblers, since they do not create risk, but merely accept the risk, which already exists in the market. The speculators are the persons who try to assimilate all the possible price-sensitive information, on the basis of which they can expect to make profit. The speculators therefore contribute in improving the efficiency of price discovery function of the futures market.
Does it mean that speculation need not be curbed?
Informed and speculation is good for the market. However overspeculation needs to be curbed.
How is over-speculation curbed?
In order to curb over-speculation, which may lead to distortion of price signal, limits are imposed on the open position held by speculators.
How should a futures contract be designed ?
The most important principle for designing a futures contract is to take into account the systems and practices being followed in the cash market. The unit of price quotation, unit of trading should be fixed on the basis of prevailing practices. The "basis" - the standard quality/grade - variety should generally be that quality or grade which has maximum production. The delivery centers should be important production or distribution centers. While designing a futures contract care should be taken that the contract designed is fair to both buyers and sellers and there would be adequate supply of the deliverable commodity thus preventing any squeezes of the market.
What are the benefits from Commodity Forward/Futures Trading?
Forward/Futures trading performs two important functions, namely, price discovery and price risk management with reference to the given commodity. It is useful to all segments of the economy. It ensures balance in supply and demand position throughout the year and leads to integrated prices structure throughout the country. It also helps in removing risk of price uncertainty, encourages competition and acts s a price barometer to farmers and other functionaries in the economy. The main benefits of futures trading are: (i) Price stabilization-in times of violent price fluctuation-this mechanism dampens the peaks and lifts up the valleys i.e. the amplitude of price variation is reduced, (ii) Leads to integrated price structure throughout the country, (iii) Ensures balance in supply and demand position throughout the year, and (iv) Encourages competition and acts as a price barometer to farmers and others trade functionaries.
What is hedging?
Hedging is a mechanism by which the participants in the physical/ cash markets can cover their price risk. Theoretically, the relationship between the futures and cash prices is determined by cost of carry. The two prices therefore move in tandem. This enables the participants in the physical/ cash markets to cover their price risk by taking opposite position in the futures market.
Illustrate hedging by a stockist by using futures market?
To illustrate the concept of hedging, let us assume that, on 1st December, 2007, a stockist purchases, say, 10 tonnes of Castorseed in the physical market @ Rs. 1600/- p.q.. To hedge price-risk, he would simultaneously sell 10 contracts of one tonne each in the futures market at the prevailing price. Assuming the ruling price in May, 2008 contract is Rs.1750/- p.q., the stockist is able to lock in a spread/"badla" of Rs. 150/- p.q., i.e., about 9% for about 6 months. The stockist would, in the first instance, take the decision to purchase stock only if such a spread covers his cost of carry and a reasonable profit of margin. Assuming that the stockist sells his stock in the month of April when the spot price is Rs. 1500/- p.q.. The stockist would incur a loss of Rs. 100/- p.q. on his physical stocks. He would also make a loss of expenses incurred for carrying the stocks. However, since the spot and futures prices move in parity, futures price is also likely to decline, say, from Rs. 1750/- p.q. to, say, Rs. 1625/- p.a. The stockist can liquidate his contract in the futures market by entering into purchase contract @ Rs. 1625/- p.q. He would end up earning a profit of Rs. 125/- in the futures segment. Looking at the gain/loss in the two segments, we find that the stockist is able to hedge his price risk by operating simultaneously in the two markets and taking opposite positions. He gains in the futures market if he loses in the spot market; but he would lose in futures market if he gains in the spot market. Similarly, processors, exporters, and importers can also hedge their price risks.
How does futures market benefit farmers?
World over, farmers do not directly participate in the futures market. They take advantage of the price signals emanating from a futures market. Price-signals given by long-duration new-season futures contract can help farmers to take decision about cropping pattern and the investment intensity of cultivation. The farmers also benefit by the dissemination of the futures prices of the Exchange traded products as it improves his bargaining capacity. Direct participation of farmers in futures market to manage price risk -either as members of an Exchange or as non-member clients of some member - can be cumbersome as it involves meeting various membership criteria and payment of daily margins etc The participation of farmers with means and mechanism to hedge his produce and derive benefits of the futures markets. Options in goods would be relatively more farmer-friendly, as and when they are legally permitted.
Can the loss incurred on the futures market be set off against normal business profit?
Loss incurred in futures market by entering into contracts for hedging purposes can be set off against normal profit. The loss incurred on account of speculative transactions in futures market cannot be set off against normal business profit. This loss is however allowed to be carried forward for eight years, during which it can be set off against speculative profit.
How can futures trading be successful when the cash markets of the underlying commodities are fragmented?
It is true that in order to attract wide participation, the cash market of commodities should be geographically integrated and free from Government restrictions on production, marketing and distribution, like limit on stockholding, movement of goods across state borders etc. Differential inter-state tax structure as well as the APMC Acts introduced by various State Governments restraining direct purchase from farmers also comes in the way of developing nationwide market. It is however not a bad idea to introduce futures trading in commodity without waiting for the cash market in the commodity to become geographically integrated. The number of commodities attracting Essential Commodities Act, as well as the restrictions imposed on production, marketing and distribution of the commodities under the Essential Commodities Act have declined rapidly. Existence of futures/ derivatives market as well as wide use of derivatives in commodities to manage price risk would create conditions for the Government to consider dilution/withdrawal of Administered price mechanism.
Legal Framework Orders & Rulings Offer Documents News & Publications Statistics
General Orders
Master Circulars
Informal Guidance
Clarifications on Inside ..
Orders That Could Not be ..
Unserved Summons / Notic ..
Consent Applications Rej ..
Processing Status
Public Issues
Rights Issues
Debt Offer Document
Mutual Funds
Press Releases
Annual Reports
SEBI DRG Studies
Public Notices
Public Interest Disclosu ..
News Clarifications
FPI Investments
Mutual Funds
Corporate Bonds
Open Offers
Handbook of Statistics
Corporate Filing / EDIFAR
What's New | About SEBI | RTI Act, 2005 | FAQs | Contact Us | Site Map | Website Policy | Feedback | Hindi Website Securities and Exchange Board of India
Committees | Screen Reader Access | SAT | Careers | Tenders | SEBI RSS Feed | Useful Links | Investor Website