Learning To Trade Futures
It has been said that success in this life is made up of equal parts of learning and yearning. For nearly everyone, it's possible to accomplish your goals if you have sufficient desire and education. If your desire is to trade futures, you already have a direction; next, you need to couple a relentless pursuit of education with a strong desire to succeed at something very interesting and potentially rewarding. Commodity trading can be complex and frustrating but it is also well worth the effort.
Necessary Traits to Trade Futures
What are the four things necessary to trade futures? They are:
- You Need to Have the Desire to Succeed As a Trader – There is a certain air that is needed to trade futures…part student, part bulldog, part daredevil. Desire to succeed will push you to learn more and trade futures smarter.
- Persistence and Motivation – This is a by-product of your desire. Once you have the desire to succeed, you will be willing to put in the time to learn to trade futures and the motivation to make your new business a success.
- Discipline, Discipline, Discipline – Discipline to learn the nuances of how to trade futures, discipline to do technical analysis, and the discipline to make smart futures trades. If you trade futures like it is a business you will acquire the discipline to be successful.
- Someone to Help You Get Started – Whether you learn from someone you know, from going to seminars, or reading books, you will need some help when you start to trade futures. It is important to learn the terminology, techniques and practices that make a successful trader and that knowledge is best passed down from person to person.
An Overview of Futures Trading
Futures trading is different that investing in the stock market or bonds since you don’t actually own anything; in futures trading, you are speculating on the future direction of the price in the commodity you are trading. This is like a bet on future price direction. The terms "buy" and "sell" merely indicate the direction you expect future prices will take. He or she must only deposit sufficient capital with a brokerage firm to insure that he will be able to pay the losses if his trades lose money.
Futures trading is a sort of insurance plan for those who are trading and investing. A farmer may sell futures on his wheat crop if he thinks the price will go down before the harvest; conversely, a bread manufacturer may buy futures if they think the price of wheat is going to rise before the harvest. Regardless of the price movement, both are guaranteed their price. The final component of the equation is the investor in futures trading who looks for changes in the futures markets and seeks to gain advantages by buying or selling at a profit.
The Potential of Futures Trading
Trading futures is an excellent way to make money. It is said that Richard Dennis, a famed commodities trader, was able to parlay $1,600 of borrowed money into $200 million over ten years. Futures trading has a bad reputation as being filled with risk and while there is risk, the truth is that futures trading is only as risky as a trader makes it. This is not the lottery or a trip to the casino; if you take a conservative approach, look for a reasonable return and make this a business then the probability of success in commodity trading is very good.
Some of the better known futures markets are:
- Agriculture – This is a broad, commonly traded futures which includes such things as wheat, soybean and corn futures.
- Currency Trading – Currency trading, also known as FOREX (foreign exchange) trading, this involves buying and selling currency from many different countries such as the US dollar, the British pound and the Japanese yen.
- Interest Rate Futures – This market focuses on financial transactions, interest rates and bonds.
- Energy Futures – This market centers its attention on gas and oil futures.
- Foods – This sector includes items such as coffee, sugar and orange juice.
- Metals – This is one of the more popular and better known sectors. The typical commodities in metals are gold and silver.
One of the real advantages when you trade futures is that you can literally do it anywhere. Since market data can be delivered easily via the Internet, you are free from any geographic restrictions, allowing you to implement trades from almost any location in the world.
In order to get started, you need to equip yourself with a good understanding of how to trade futures, which markets you will target, and above all, you need a trading plan. The trading rules in your plan will help you to understanding yourself and your responses to the things you see on the charts. You need an unemotional approach, backed up by the confidence that you can do it. This confidence comes from proving to yourself that you can win more often than you lose when you trade futures.