Chicago Board of Trade 1973


The futures market was first conceived in Japan in 1730 at the Dojima Rice Exchange. The market was created to enable rice farmers to negotiate the future prices of their harvests in order to insulate them from adverse price fluctuations. Since then, many more exchanges were created across the world from the commodity exchanges in London in 1877, to Chicago Board of Trade in 1848. Various futures contracts were created at these exchanges to cover a wide variety of commodities from metals to livestock. It wasn't until 1982 that the stock market index S&P 500 futures contracts began trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).


A futures contract is a standardized agreement between a buyer and a seller to exchange an amount and grade of an item at a specific price and future date. The item or underlying asset may be an agricultural commodity, a metal, mineral or energy commodity, a financial instrument or a foreign currency. Because futures contracts are derived from these underlying assets, they belong to a family of financial instruments called derivatives. In addition to providing hedging risk on various commodities, futures can also be used for the purpose of investment portfolio diversification.


Futures trading began as a meeting between producers and buyers at the exchange. Later on, speculators began to participate at the exchange "pits" in order to profit from the price fluctuations through buying and selling these futures contracts. Consequently, these traders began to provide the necessary liquidity in order to facilitate an orderly and functional market. It wasn't until the early 2000 that the majority of the the futures trading volume began to move from the exchange pits to the online platform via computer trading. The transition to computer trading enables a wide variety market players, from large scale hedge funds to small independent retail traders to participate on a level playing field.


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