What is Commodity Trading?

Commodities play an important role in most people’s daily life. A commodity is a basic good used in commerce that may be exchanged for other products of a similar nature. Traditional commodities include grain, gold, meat, oil, and natural gas.

Commodities, in addition to traditional securities, can assist investors in diversifying their portfolios. Commodity prices move in the opposite direction of stock prices, therefore some investors utilize them as a hedge against market volatility.

Commodities trading was previously restricted to professional traders due to the significant amount of time, money, and experience required. Today, there are more options for commodity market participation.

  • Metal, energy, livestock and meat, and agricultural commodities are the four basic categories into which commodities are traditionally classified.
  • Commodities are known to be dangerous investment propositions in the most fundamental sense since their market (supply and demand) is influenced by unknowns that are difficult or impossible to foresee, such as odd weather patterns, diseases, and natural and man-made calamities.
  • Commodities can be purchased in a variety of methods, including futures contracts, options, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

More about Commodity Trading!

Commodity trading is a more ancient profession than stock and bond trading. Many civilizations’ emergence can be traced back to their ability to create complex commercial networks and facilitate commodity exchange.

Today, commodities are traded all over the world. A commodities exchange is both a physical location where commodities are traded and a legal entity formed to enforce the rules governing the trading of standardised commodity contracts and related financial products.

Characteristics of Commodity Market

In the widest sense, the commodities markets are driven by the fundamental principles of supply and demand. Changes in supply have an impact on demand; a scarcity of supply leads to increased prices. As a result, any significant disruption in a commodity’s supply, such as a widespread disease affecting cattle, can produce a spike in the normally stable and predictable demand for livestock.

Global economic development and technological improvements might have an impact on price adjustments. For example, the growth of China and India as significant manufacturing entities (and hence higher demand for industrial metals) has led to a drop in metal supply for the rest of the world.

Different types of Commodities

Metal, energy, livestock and meat, and agricultural commodities are the four main categories in which commodities are exchanged.

  1. Metal

Metals commodities: Gold, silver, platinum, copper, and so on. Some investors may choose to invest in precious metals, particularly gold, during moments of market turbulence or bear markets because of its status as a reliable, dependable metal with actual, transferable value.

Energy commodities: Crude oil, heating oil, natural gas, gasoline, and so on. Oil prices have historically risen in response to global economic developments and declining oil outputs from established oil wells around the world, as demand for energy-related products has climbed and oil supplies have diminished.

  1. Agriculture

Agricultural commodities: Corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, cocoa, coffee, cotton, sugar, and so on. Grain prices in the agriculture industry can be particularly volatile during the summer months or during any period of weather-related shifts. Population growth, combined with limited agricultural supply, may provide opportunities for agricultural investors to profit from rising agricultural commodity prices.

How to use futures to invest in commodities?

One option to invest in commodities is through a futures contract. A futures contract is a legally binding agreement to buy or sell a commodity item at a predetermined price at a later date. When a futures contract is acquired, the buyer is responsible for acquiring and receiving the underlying commodity at the contract’s expiration date.

The seller of the futures contract bears responsibility for providing and delivering the underlying commodity on the contract’s expiration date. Futures contracts are offered for every commodity category. Commodity futures markets generally include two types of investors: business or institutional purchasers of the commodities and speculative speculators.

Futures contracts are used by manufacturers and service providers as part of their budgeting process to normalise expenditures and alleviate cash flow problems. Manufacturers and service providers who rely on commodities for their manufacturing processes may invest in commodities markets to mitigate the risk of financial loss due to price fluctuations.

For planning reasons, the aviation industry is an example of a huge enterprise that has to acquire vast supplies of fuel at constant costs. Because of this, airlines employ futures contracts to hedge their risks. Future contracts allow airlines to buy gasoline at predetermined rates for a set length of time. They can prevent any volatility in the crude oil and gasoline markets this way.

Farming cooperatives frequently employ futures contracts. Any volatility in the commodities market that cannot be hedged using futures contracts has the potential to bankrupt enterprises that rely on a certain level of predictability in product costs to manage their operational expenses.

Commodity futures markets are also used by speculative investors. Speculators are expert investors or traders who acquire assets for a limited time and employ specialized strategies to profit from price swings in the asset. Speculative speculators seek to benefit from price swings in futures contracts.

If you do not already have a broker who trades futures contracts, you may need to open a new brokerage account. Typically, investors are requested to sign a document admitting that they are aware of the risks associated with futures trading. Futures contracts demand a varying minimum deposit depending on the broker, and the value of your account will rise or fall in proportion to the contract’s value. If the contract’s value declines, you may be subject to a margin call, which means you’ll have to deposit more money into your account in order to keep the transaction open. Due to the high amount of leverage, small price movements in commodities may result in big gains or large losses; a futures account can be wiped out or doubled in a matter of minutes.

Futures contracts provide a number of advantages as a means of trading in the commodities market. Because it’s a pure-play on the underlying commodity, analysis may be simplified. There’s also the chance to make a lot of money, and if you can create a minimum-deposit account, you can manage full-size contracts (that otherwise may be difficult to afford). Futures contracts make it easy to gamble long or short.

Meat and Livestock

Direct investment in commodity futures contracts is risky, particularly for rookie investors, because markets are volatile. The drawback of having such a big profit potential is that losses may be exacerbated; if a transaction fails, you may lose your initial investment (and more) before you have time to exit your position.

The majority of futures contracts allow for the purchase of options. Futures options might be a safer method to get into the futures market. Considering buying options in this way is analogous to putting a deposit on something rather than buying it completely. You have the right–but not the obligation–to complete the transaction when the contract ends if you have an option. As a result, if the price of the futures contract does not move in the direction you expected, your loss is limited to the cost of the option you bought.

How to use stocks to invest in Commodities?

Many investors who want to get into the commodities market may buy stocks of companies that are in some way related to the commodity. Oil drilling firms, refineries, tanker companies, and diversified oil corporations, for example, are all viable options for investors interested in the industry. Stocks of mining businesses, smelters, refineries, or any firm that works with bullion are some alternatives for people interested in the gold industry.

Stocks are regarded to be less susceptible to price fluctuations than futures contracts. Bonds are more difficult to purchase, hold, trade, and track than stocks. It’s also feasible to target funding to a certain industry. Of course, investors must undertake due research to ensure that a company is both a good investment and a commodity play.

Stock options can also be purchased by investors. Options on stocks, like options on futures contracts, entail a cheaper initial outlay than acquiring equities directly. While buying in a stock option restricts your risk to the option’s cost, the price movement of a commodity may not immediately match the price movement of a firm whose shares you own.

Because the vast majority of investors already have a brokerage account, investing in stocks to gain access to the commodities market simplifies trading. Investors may quickly get publicly available information about a company’s financial situation, and stocks are usually extremely liquid.

Investing in stocks to gain access to the commodities market has a number of disadvantages. In the stock market, commodity prices are rarely a guaranteed bet. Furthermore, company-related variables that have little to do with the value of the underlying commodity in question may impact the price of a stock.

How to use ETFs and Notes to invest in Commodities?

For investors interested in entering the commodities market, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and exchange-traded notes (ETNs) offer further choices. ETFs and ETNs are similar to stocks in that they allow investors to profit from price swings in commodities without having to participate directly in futures contracts.

Commodity ETFs use futures contracts to monitor the price of a specific commodity—or a set of commodities that make up an index. Investors will sometimes back the ETF with the real commodity that is stored in storage. ETNs are unsecured debt securities that are meant to track the price movement of a certain commodity risk or commodities index. The issuer backs the ETNs.

Investors can participate in the price movement of a commodity or a basket of commodities using ETFs and ETNs without the requirement for a separate brokerage account. There are no management or redemption fees for ETFs and ETNs because they trade like stocks. However, not all commodities are connected to exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or exchange-traded notes (ETNs).

Another drawback for investors is that a major change in the commodity price may not be reflected point-for-point in the underlying ETF or ETN. Furthermore, because ETNs are backed by the issuer, they carry a credit risk.

How to use Mutual and Index Funds to invest in Commodities?

While mutual funds cannot invest directly in commodities, they can invest in the stocks of companies involved in commodity-related industries such as energy, agriculture, or mining. Other than commodity price fluctuations, the shares of the mutual fund, like the stocks in which they invest, can be impacted by factors other than commodity price fluctuations, such as general stock market movements and company-specific variables.

Commodity index mutual funds, on the other hand, invest in futures contracts and commodity-linked derivatives, providing investors with a more direct exposure to commodity prices.

Mutual fund investors benefit from competent money management, better diversification, and liquidity. Unfortunately, management charges can be significant at times, and certain funds may charge selling fees.

Final Thoughts

Both new and experienced traders can invest in financial products that provide them access to commodities markets. While commodity futures contracts are the most direct way to participate in the industry’s price swings, there are other forms of investments that are less risky but still give adequate commodities exposure.

Commodities are recognized to be dangerous investment propositions in the most fundamental sense because they may be influenced by uncertainties that are difficult, if not impossible, to foresee, such as odd weather patterns, diseases, and natural and man-made calamities.


Que.1 In the commodity market, what is MSP?

Ans. MSP stands for Minimum Support Prices in the commodities market. Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a kind of market intervention used by the Indian government to protect agricultural farmers against a significant drop in farm prices.

The Government of India announces minimum support prices for specific crops at the start of the sowing season based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). MSP is a price set by the Indian government to protect farmers.

Que.2 Do you know what NAFED stands for in the commodities market?

Ans.    The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) is an apex organisation of marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce in India, operating under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India.

It was created in October 1958 with the goal of promoting agricultural and forest resource trading across the country.

Now, as you can see, NAFED is one of India’s leading agricultural procurement and marketing organisations. NAFED has four regional offices, with its headquarters in New Delhi.

Que.3 What are commodity contracts, exactly?

Ans. A commodity futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a predetermined amount of a commodity at a predetermined price on a future date. Commodity futures can be used to hedge or defend an investment area, as well as to wager on the underlying asset’s direction.

Que.4 Why are commodities prices plummeting?

Ans. Commodity prices are heavily influenced by seasonal and other weather fluctuations. Due to the abundance of harvests towards the end of the summer, commodities prices decline in October. These seasonally low pricing might be one of the reasons why large stock market drops are so common in October.