Forex futures: what are they and how to trade them?

Key features of the forward exchange (forex) market

Currency futures fulfill these main characteristics:

  • The name of the currency pair concerned,

  • The quantity of currency parity contracts,

  • The expiration date of the future contract,

  • The price at which you will buy the future contract.

The different markets that trade currency futures determine the specifications of the contracts, these may vary substantially. For example, the Chicago Mercantil Exchange (CME) quotes futures on quarterly cycles (March, June, September and December), while the Spanish Financial Futures Market (MEFF) quotes “perpetual” futures, c ie without expiry date.

Another example, CAD/USD futures contracts are physically delivered on settlement date, normalized by size to C$100,000, and trade for twenty months based on the quarterly March cycle (i.e. say March, June, September and December).

Futures markets also offer mini-contracts at half the standard of the regular contract (E-Minis), which are 1/10th the size of their regular counterparts. E-minis are ideal for new traders due to their increased liquidity and accessibility due to lower margin requirements. Contracts trade 23 hours a day, Monday through Friday, worldwide.

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