The futures market is huge in that at any given time there are several markets that are in full bullish phase, others in a bearish phase, others trending sideways, others bottoming and finally some in the topping process. This means that once you have the right tools it’s a lot easier to find potentially new trades in these markets simply because there are so many of them. Equities for the most part trend in the same direction. Yes here and there you have spots of strengths but one has to find these strong sectors and then look for strong plays in within those sectors. With the futures markets one can simply skim across the different segments and immediately spot potentially new buys or sells. The great thing about the futures markets are that if you want to be a perpetual bull or bear you have the chance because all these markets work independently of each other for the most part; hence all one has to do is look and wait for the right time to enter. For example you could be a bull and just have played the following markets one after the other in the last 15 months. The US dollar, then oats, then corn, then wheat, then oil, natural gas, cocoa, cotton, coffee etc and you would never have to be a bear. You could in effect do this indefinitely as there are so many markets to play. For example right now certain markets are pulling back and will soon start bottoming and thus provide bulls with new entry points once the current one’s they are playing run out of steam. Examples are feeder cattle, lean hogs, copper, oil, etc.
This does not mean that the equities markets are not worth playing; indeed nothing could be further from the truth. Incredible gains have been made and stand to be made from the equities sector. What we are simply stating is that once you are disciplined and have adjusted to the volatility of the futures markets they are in some degree easier to analyse because you are looking at the same markets again and again and this then provides one with the ability to develop an intuitive sense of direction. When you examine corn it’s the same market that you are looking at again and again; the same goes for cocoa, cotton, gold etc. However with equities first you need to identity the sector then look for plays and a stock that’s good today might not necessarily be good tomorrow. Hence one you master the two most important factors of trading which are discipline and patience the futures markets do indeed provide one with the ability of developing what we would like to call an intuitive feel that for the most part is lacking when on examines stocks. In the equity sector this is reduced to indices and as of recently one can apply this to ETF’s however not all of them have sufficient data. Since most traders cannot master these two very important components of trading they can never enter the futures arena and if they do they usually get killed immediately. Even when you are a disciplined trader you have to understand how to incorporate these skills into the futures markets and not simply assume that the methods you used in the equities markets will work. For example one of the main adjustments you have to make is to accept that these markets are very volatile and also you have to train yourself to deal with this huge volatility. Traders that do not adjust for this will simply get killed here. Hence being a disciplined and patient trader in the equities markets does not mean you will succeed here; in reality most fail because they have not adjusted their skills to take into consideration the very different nature of the futures markets.
In no other market are your skills of endurance tested as much as they are here. Beginners should focus on the markets where the margin requirements are lower and where the draw downs are less. Hence avoid natural gas, Palladium and to some degree the oil sectors. Oats, corn, wheat, cocoa, cotton, coffee, sugar, orange juice, pork bellies, certain currencies (look under margin requirements below for more info) etc do not require huge margins plus the potential draw downs are less and the risk to reward ratio in many cases is actually higher then playing the very fast moving natural gas sector. The natural gas markets are only for experienced players who have the money to play in this sector and who can deal with huge swings of up to 20k on each side before the main move begins. If you cannot do this then you must stay out of this market.
One of the best ways to learn futures is to open up demo account which enables you to trade in real time but without risking the capital. Get a feel for the contracts and for the markets and then slowly start to venture in the real world. There is no rush as these markets are going no where so take your time and make sure you understand how these markets work.
Some Basic Resources
Futures contract and margin info
Futures expiration dates
Places you can open a demo account
Traders looking for a site that provides futures contract info such as symbols (for both the electronic and Pit markets), contract specifications and various other info will find all the relevant info in an easy to use format on this site
Futures is not for everyone, however should you decide to venture into this arena, then consider our VIP service. To date we have never had a losing year. For more details click on this link VIP Futures Service