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Commodity Futures: Introduction, Objectives and Impacts

Commodity Futures: Introduction, Objectives and Impacts

The Indian economy thrives on various commodities, from agricultural products like wheat and rice to precious metals like gold and silver. But have you ever wondered how the prices of these everyday essentials are determined, or how people can make informed decisions about their future value? This is where commodity futures come into play.

This blog delves into the world of commodity futures, specifically for Indian investors seeking to understand this dynamic market. We'll explore:

  • What are Commodity Futures?
  • Objectives of Trading Commodity Futures
  • Impacts of Commodity Futures Trading
  • Examples of Commodity Futures Contracts in India
  • Benefits and Risks of Commodity Futures Trading
  • Getting Started with Commodity Futures Trading in India

By the end of this blog, you'll gain a basic understanding of commodity futures and whether they align with your investment goals.

What are Commodity Futures?

Imagine you're a farmer who cultivates wheat. You're worried about the future price of wheat when it's time to sell your harvest. This is where a futures contract comes in.

A commodity futures contract is an agreement between two parties to buy or sell a specific quantity of a commodity at a predetermined price on a future date. It's like making a promise today about a transaction that will happen later.

Here's a table illustrating the key players in a futures contract:



Buyer (Long position): Agrees to purchase the commodity at a specific price on a future date.

Expects the price of the commodity to increase.

Seller (Short position): Agrees to sell the commodity at a specific price on a future date.

Expects the price of the commodity to decrease, or may already own the commodity and wants to lock in a selling price.

Commodity Futures Involves


Someone who produces the commodity (like the mango farmer). They might use futures to lock in a selling price and avoid market fluctuations.


Someone who uses the commodity (like a juice manufacturer). They might use futures to secure a steady supply at a predictable price.


A regulated marketplace where futures contracts are traded (like the Multi Commodity Exchange of India - MCX).

Objectives of Trading Commodity Futures

People participate in commodity futures trading for various reasons:

Price Hedging 

This is the most common objective. By entering a futures contract, producers and consumers can protect themselves from price fluctuations. Imagine the mango farmer selling a futures contract at a fixed price in June, even though he'll harvest in December. If market prices fall in December, he's still guaranteed the fixed price he agreed to in June.


Investors can speculate on the future price movements of commodities. If they believe the price will rise, they can buy a futures contract and potentially profit from the price increase. However, speculation carries an inherent risk of losses if the price falls.


Experienced traders may exploit price discrepancies between different markets by buying and selling futures contracts simultaneously.

Impacts of Commodity Futures Trading

Commodity futures trading plays a crucial role in the Indian economy:

Price Discovery 

Futures markets help determine the fair market value of a commodity based on supply and demand.

Price Risk Management 

Hedging through futures contracts allows businesses to operate with greater certainty and manage price fluctuations.

Market Liquidity 

Active trading in futures contracts increases market liquidity, making it easier for buyers and sellers to find each other.

Examples of Commodity Futures Contracts in India

The Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) and the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX) are the two leading commodity futures exchanges in India. Here are some common examples of futures contracts traded in India:



Bullion (Gold, Silver)

Precious metals used for investment and jewelry.

Energy (Crude Oil, Natural Gas)

Essential resources for power generation and industrial processes.

Metals (Copper, Zinc) 

Used in various industries like construction and manufacturing.

Agricultural Products (Wheat, Cotton)

Staple crops that form the backbone of the Indian economy.


source of protein in the Indian diet.

How Does Commodity Futures Trading Work?

Imagine you believe the price of gold is likely to increase in the coming months. You can enter a long futures contract, essentially agreeing to buy gold at a predetermined price on a specific future date.

  • If your prediction is correct, and the price of gold rises, you can buy gold at a lower price (as per your contract) and sell it at the higher market price, pocketing the profit.
  • However, if the price of gold falls, you'll still be obligated to buy gold at the agreed-upon price, potentially incurring a loss.

Similarly, you can enter a short futures contract if you believe the price of a commodity will decrease.

Benefits and Risks of Commodity Futures Trading:

Benefits of Commodity Futures Trading

  • Hedging against price fluctuations: Provides businesses and investors with a tool to manage risk.
  • Profiting from price movements: Speculators can potentially gain from rising or falling prices.
  • Increased market liquidity: Active trading enhances market efficiency.

Risks of Commodity Futures Trading

  • High volatility: Commodity prices can fluctuate significantly, leading to potential losses.
  • Margin requirements: Requires an initial investment (margin) to hold a futures contract.
  • Leverage: Can amplify both gains and losses.


Commodity Futures Trading in India

Commodity futures trading is not for everyone. It requires careful consideration of your risk tolerance and investment goals. Here are some steps to consider if you're interested:

  1. Educate yourself: Thoroughly understand the concept of commodity futures trading, different types of contracts, and the associated risks.
  2. Open a Demat Account with a SEBI-registered Broker:

A demat account, similar to a trading account for stocks, is required to trade commodity futures. Choose a broker registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for added security.

  1. Start Small and Practice with a Simulator:

Many brokers offer trading simulators that allow you to practice futures trading without risking real money. This helps you understand market dynamics and develop your trading strategies before putting your capital at stake.

  1. Seek Professional Guidance

Consider consulting a registered financial advisor specializing in commodity futures trading. They can provide personalized advice based on your risk tolerance and financial goals.


Commodity futures offer opportunities for both producers and consumers to manage risks and potentially benefit from price movements. However, they also involve inherent risks. By understanding the basics, and potential impacts, and exercising caution, commodity futures can be a valuable tool for a well-diversified investment portfolio. Remember, research, responsible investment strategies, and a long-term perspective are crucial for success.


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