Stocks and Futures – What is the difference?

Are you new to trading? Perhaps you wonder what the difference is between trading Stocks and trading Futures. Often when I meet someone new who inquires as to what I do,Guest Posting I get a response of “that’s like trading stocks, isn’t it?”

In some ways they are similar, but only minutely so. So let’s consider some of the major differences between the two.

Most individuals have likely traded stocks at one time or another. Usually, it is to buy in order to ‘own’ a percentage of a particular company or to liquidate such partial ownership. They pick up a phone to call a broker or go online to purchase or sell. The order is facilitated through an ‘exchange’, such as the New York Stock Exchange for example.

Buying and selling Futures is similar in this respect. You can call a broker or go online to buy or sell Futures contracts. The order is then facilitated througha commodity exchange, such as the Chicago Merchatile Exchange for example. Yet while buying a stock gives you part ownership in a company or portfolio of companies (as in a fund), buying a Futures contract does not give you ownership of a commodity or product. Rather, you are simply entering into a contract to purchase the underlying commodity at a certain price at a future time, noted by the contract. For example, buying one May Wheat at 3.00 simply creates a contract between you and the seller (whom you need not know as this is taken care of via the exchange) that come May you will take delivery of 5000 bushels of Wheat at $3 per bushel, regardless of what the price of Wheat at market happens to be come May. As a speculator simply trading to make a profit from trading itself and with no interest in actually t