Home Learn What are Futures and Options (F&O)? Learn F&O Profit, Examples & Trade Basics

What are Futures and Options (F&O)? Learn F&O Profit, Examples & Trade Basics

What are Futures and Options (F&O)? Learn F&O Profit, Examples & Trade Basics
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Have you ever wanted to tap into the world of financial markets and take advantage of price movements? If yes then look no further than futures and options trading! 

These powerful investment tools offer unique opportunities to speculate on the future direction of stocks, commodities, currencies, and more. Not only this but these instruments also offer flexibility and the ability to capitalize on market movements, whether they are bullish, bearish, or neutral. 

In this blog, we will demystify the concepts and learn about futures and options, exploring their definitions, benefits, and how they can enhance your investment strategies. Let us now explore the meaning of future and option trading, in detail. 

What are Futures Contracts?

A futures contract is a legally binding agreement between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a predetermined price on a specific future date. The asset can be a commodity, such as oil or gold, or a financial instrument, such as a stock index or currency pair.

When you buy a futures contract, you are agreeing to buy the asset at the agreed-upon price on the expiration date, regardless of the current market price. For example, if you buy a futures contract for 100 barrels of oil at ₹50 per barrel, you are obligated to buy the oil for ₹50 per barrel even if the market price of oil has risen to ₹60 per barrel by the expiration date.
The opposite is true if you sell a futures contract. If you sell a futures contract for 100 barrels of oil at ₹50 per barrel, you are obligated to sell the oil for ₹50 per barrel even if the market price of oil has fallen to ₹40 per barrel by the expiration date.

Types of Futures Contracts

There are many different types of futures contracts available, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the most common types of futures contracts include:

  • Commodity futures: Commodity futures contracts involve the trading of physical commodities, such as oil, gold, and corn.
  • Financial futures: Financial futures contracts involve the trading of financial instruments, such as stock indexes, currencies, and interest rates.
  • Index futures: Index futures contracts track the performance of a specific market index, such as the S&P 500 or the Nikkei 225.
  • Currency futures: Currency futures contracts involve the trading of currencies, such as the US dollar, the euro, and the Japanese yen.

Role of Margin and Leverage

Futures trading is a leveraged market, which means that you can control a large amount of an asset with a relatively small amount of capital. This is because futures contracts are settled in cash, not in physical assets.

In India, the margin requirement for futures trading is typically 5% of the contract value. This means that if you want to trade a futures contract for 100 barrels of oil, you would only need to put up a margin deposit of ₹2,500.

Leverage can magnify your profits or losses, so it is important to use it carefully. If the market moves in your favour, you can make a large profit with a small investment. However, if the market moves against you, you can lose a large amount of money with a small investment.

What are Options Contracts?

Options contracts are like powerful financial tools that give you the choice (but not the obligation) to buy or sell an asset at a specific price within a set timeframe. They let you participate in the price movements of an underlying asset without actually owning it.

Let’s understand this with the help of an example of options contract. 

Suppose you purchase a call option for shares of Company XYZ at a strike price of ₹1,000 and an expiration date of three months. If the stock price rises above ₹1,000 within that time, you can exercise the option and buy the shares at the agreed-upon price, potentially making a profit. However, if the stock price remains below ₹1,000 or goes down, you have the choice not to exercise the option, limiting your loss to the premium you paid for the option. 

Different Types of Options

There are two main types of options trading: 

  • Call options: Think of call options as a ticket to buy something. When you buy a call option, you’re acquiring the right to purchase the asset at a predetermined price before the expiration date. It’s like having the option to buy a smartphone at a fixed price, even if its market value goes up.
  • Put options: On the other hand, put options give you the power to sell an asset at a predetermined price before the expiration date. It’s like having the option to sell your old smartphone at a guaranteed price, even if its market value drops.

Now that the meaning and types of futures and options have been explored, let’s learn a few key terminologies that would come in handy when NSE futures and options trading. 

Basic Terms to Know for Futures & Options Trading

Now that we know what is future and options trading, let us learn essential terms for future and option trading:

  1. Underlying Security: Central to F&O trading, the value of derivatives hinges on the underlying security. This can encompass stocks, bonds, commodities, interest rates, indices, or currencies.
  2. Strike Price: The agreed-upon price at which the contract owner or derivatives trader commits to buying or selling the derivative on a predetermined date.
  3. Premium: The current option price paid by the buyer to the seller. Premiums rise with increased volatility in the underlying assets.
  4. Expiry Date: The specified date set by contract owners, signaling when traders must exercise their rights or obligations.

Option Pricing and the Role of Premiums

The price you pay for an options contract is called the premium. Premiums depend on various factors such as the current asset price, the agreed-upon price, time until expiration, market volatility, and interest rates. They reflect the cost of holding the option and can fluctuate based on share market conditions and expectations.

Options vs Futures – What is the Difference Between Futures and Options?

Here’s the table of key differences between options and futures:

BasisOptions Futures
Obligation No obligation to buy or sell the underlying asset. The buyer can choose not to exercise the option.Both parties are obligated to buy or sell the underlying asset as per the terms of the contract.
Risk Limited risk for the option buyer, as they can choose not to exercise the option if it is not profitable.Both parties are exposed to potentially unlimited risk, as the market can move against their position.
Profit PotentialThe unlimited profit potential for option buyers, as they can benefit from favourable price movements of the underlying asset.The unlimited profit potential for both buyers and sellers, as they can profit from price fluctuations in the underlying asset.
Premium Options buyers pay a premium to the options seller for the right to buy or sell the underlying asset.No premium is involved in futures contracts.
Time FrameOptions have expiration dates, after which they become worthless if not exercised.Futures contracts have specific delivery dates in the future, at which the underlying asset is exchanged.

Top Futures and Options Stocks in India

Here is the top stock market options and future stock list: 

Popular Futures and Options Stocks (F and O Stocks)Explanation
NIFTY 50The Nifty 50 is a stock market index of the top 50 companies listed on the National Stock Exchange of India. It is a popular index for futures and options trading because it is a broad-based index that represents the Indian stock market as a whole.
SensexThe Sensex is a stock market index and consists of the 30 largest companies listed on the BSE. It is another popular index for futures and options trading because it is a large and liquid index.
ICICI Bank ICICI Bank is a leading Indian bank. It is a popular stock for futures and options trading because it is a large and liquid stock with a lot of volatility.
InfosysInfosys is a leading Indian information technology company. It is a popular stock for futures and options trading because it is a large and liquid stock with a lot of volatility.
Reliance Industries Reliance Industries is a leading Indian conglomerate. It is a popular stock for equity futures and options trading because it is a large and liquid stock with a lot of volatility.
Popular F&O Stocks List

How to Invest in Options and Futures?

Now that we know what is futures and options in stock market, let us learn how to invest in them. Here are the steps that you need to follow to begin future and option trading: 

1.  Opening a Trading Account

Start by choosing a trusted broker and opening a trading account with them. Look for a broker that offers a user-friendly platform and reliable customer support.

2. Learning Resources and Educational Materials

Expand your knowledge by exploring various learning resources. Check out books, online courses, and informative websites that cover the basics of future and option trading. Take advantage of webinars and tutorials to enhance your understanding.

3. Paper Trading and Practice Accounts

Don’t rush into trading with real money right away. Instead, consider using paper trading or practice accounts offered by brokers. These allow you to trade with virtual funds and test your strategies in a risk-free environment. It’s a great way to gain experience and confidence.

4. Seeking Professional Guidance, if Needed

If you feel overwhelmed or want additional guidance, consider reaching out to professional traders or financial advisors. They can provide valuable insights, and mentorship, and help you develop a personalized trading plan that aligns with your goals and risk tolerance.

Remember, learning and practice are key. Take your time to understand the market, test different strategies, and manage your risks effectively. With dedication and a disciplined approach, you can embark on a rewarding journey in future and stock option trading. Now that we know how to invest in future and options, let’s learn who should invest in futures and options trading.  

Who Should Invest in Futures and Options Trading?

Experienced investors with a grasp of stock market futures and options, coupled with a keen understanding of market tracking, can actively engage in F&O trading. This form of trading involves speculating on micro and macroeconomic factors affecting financial instruments.

Traders must analyze market trends to determine whether they are ascending or descending before entering into contracts with fellow market participants. Investors should have a precise idea about how to invest in futures and options. Essentially, hedgers and speculators are key players in the F&O landscape.

Hedgers

Hedgers operate primarily in volatile commodity markets, aiming to shield themselves from future price fluctuations. Their predictions, based on experience and analysis, are geared towards securing returns on the underlying financial security. However, if prices rise in the interim, future traders may forfeit potential profits, as they commit to purchasing assets at fixed prices regardless of current market rates.

Speculators

On the other hand, speculators engage in educated guesswork by studying the market and the prevailing economic conditions. Unlike hedgers, they are not seeking price stability; instead, they embrace the long odds. Speculators are willing to buy at lower short-term prices with the expectation of selling at higher prices for significant returns.

Factors to Consider When Trading: Option Trading vs Future Trading

If you are wondering about how to trade in options and futures, it’s important to consider several factors that can greatly impact your trading experience. Let’s dive into them:

  • Market Analysis and Research: Before entering a trade, it’s vital to conduct thorough market analysis and research. This involves understanding the underlying asset, studying market trends, analyzing historical data, and staying updated with relevant news and events that can impact prices.
  • Understanding Volatility and Its Impact: Volatility measures price fluctuations in the market and affects options pricing. Learn to assess volatility levels, use indicators, and consider their impact when choosing trading strategies.
  • Evaluating Liquidity and Open Interest: Liquidity refers to the ease of buying or selling an asset without causing significant price changes, while open interest measures the number of outstanding contracts. Both are crucial for trade execution, bid-ask spreads, and efficient position management.
  • The Role of Time Decay in Options Trading: Options have an expiration date, and as time passes, their value can decline. This is known as time decay or theta. Be mindful of time decay when planning your trades, as shorter-term options are more affected by it than longer-term ones.

Pros of Trading Futures and Options

Now that we know what is future and options in share market, let’s look at a few benefits of investing in them. Some of the advantages of F&O trading are as follows:

  • Potential for High Returns: One of the major advantages of trading in futures and options is the potential for high returns. With leverage and market volatility, well-executed trades can result in significant profits.
  • Hedging Opportunities: Futures and options provide effective tools for hedging. They allow you to protect your investments from market risks and minimize potential losses. It’s like having an insurance policy for your trades.
  • Diversification: Future and options trading example India allow you to diversify your investment portfolio. By accessing different markets and asset classes, you can spread your risk and potentially enhance your overall portfolio performance.
  • Flexibility: Futures and options offer flexibility in terms of trade duration and strategies. You can choose from various contract expiration dates and employ different trading techniques to match your objectives and market conditions.
  • Liquidity: The futures and options markets are typically highly liquid. This means there is plenty of trading volume and tight bid-ask spreads. It makes it easier for you to enter and exit positions, ensuring smoother trade execution.

Cons of Trading Futures and Options

Now that we know what is futures and options, it is important to look at the disadvantages of trading in F&O. 

  • Risk of Losses: Along with the potential for high returns, there is also the risk of significant losses. Leverage can amplify losses, and market volatility can work against your trades, resulting in unexpected downturns.
  • Complex Nature: Future and option trading can be complex, especially for beginners. It requires a solid understanding of market dynamics, trading strategies, and risk management techniques. It may take time to grasp all the intricacies involved.
  • F&O Margin Requirements: Trading futures and options usually involve margin requirements. This means you need to deposit a portion of the contract value upfront. Margin calls can be triggered if your account falls below the required level, which may require additional funds or position liquidation.
  • Time Sensitivity: Options contracts have expiration dates, and their value is influenced by time decay. This adds a time-sensitive element to trading and requires careful timing and planning to maximize profits.
  • Psychological Pressure: The fast-paced nature of future and option trading can create psychological pressure. Traders need to manage their emotions, stay disciplined, and make rational decisions, even in volatile market conditions.

Futures and Options in Commodities

Investors have the option to engage in commodities through futures and options, offering potential profits with increased risk due to market volatility. Commodity exchanges like the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) and the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX) in India facilitate these trades. Future options are crucial financial instruments, serving to hedge against price fluctuations and maintain market liquidity, creating opportunities for savvy investors to profit.

Risk Management in Futures and Options Trading

Managing risk is crucial in futures and options trading as it helps traders safeguard their capital and navigate market uncertainties. It is vital for preserving capital and minimizing potential losses. Additionally, it entails identifying and evaluating risks, employing strategies to mitigate them, and maintaining a disciplined trading approach.

By effectively managing risks, traders can maintain a long-term perspective, endure market fluctuations, and prevent significant losses. It is a proactive approach that protects against unforeseen events and fosters consistent and sustainable trading performance.

Risk Management Techniques for Options and Futures

Here are some effective risk management techniques for future and option trading:

Stop-loss orders

Stop-loss orders are used to limit losses on a trade. When the market price reaches the stop-loss price, the order is executed and the trade is closed.

Take-profit orders

Take-profit orders are used to lock in profits on a trade. When the market price reaches the take-profit price, the order is executed and the trade is closed.

Hedging

Hedging is a risk management technique that involves using two or more different assets to offset risk. For example, an investor might buy a call option on a stock while also selling a put option on the same stock. This would limit the investor’s losses if the stock price falls, while also allowing them to profit if the stock price rises.

Diversification

Diversification is a risk management technique that involves investing in a variety of different assets. This helps to reduce risk by spreading the investment across different asset classes and industries.

F&O Margin requirements

Margin requirements are the amount of money that a trader must deposit with a broker in order to trade options or futures. F&O Margin requirements help to reduce risk by ensuring that traders have enough money to cover their losses if the market moves against them.

Position limits

Position limits are the maximum number of contracts that a trader can hold at any one time. Position limits help to reduce risk by limiting the amount of exposure that a trader has to any one market.

Similarities Between Futures and Options Investing

Futures and options, both being stock exchange derivatives, share fundamental similarities like:

  • Exchange-Traded Derivatives: Both are derivative contracts traded on the stock exchange.
  • Contract Details: Key details such as trade, price, quantity, and date are specified during contract creation.
  • Daily Settlement: Settlement for both futures and options takes place daily.
  • Standardization and Margin Accounts: Both contracts are standardized and require a margin account.
  • Underlying Assets: The underlying assets for these contracts encompass financial instruments like currencies, commodities, bonds, and equities.

Futures and Options Examples

Now that we have explored the meaning of futures and options, let’s illustrate with a future and option trading example: Two traders agree on a ₹150 per bushel price for a corn futures contract. If the corn price rises to ₹200, the buyer gains ₹50 per bushel, while the seller misses out on a better opportunity.

Beyond commodities like oil and corn, the futures market now includes indices such as the S&P 500 and individual future and options stocks (though not in the U.S. since 2020). Buyers do not have to pay the full contract value upfront. Instead, they provide an initial margin, covering a percentage of the contract price.

Consider an oil futures contract for 1,000 barrels at ₹10,000. Buying this at ₹15,000 means risking ₹15,000, not the full ₹100,000. The buyer may need to pay a few thousand upfront and possibly increase it later if oil prices fall.

What is Stock Futures Investing? 

Stock futures investing refers to a financial derivative strategy where investors speculate on the future price movement of individual stocks. In stock futures, two parties agree to buy or sell a specified quantity of a particular stock. Furthermore, at a predetermined price and date in the future. The underlying asset in stock futures is the stock itself. Investors can take long positions if they believe the stock price will rise or short positions if they anticipate a decline. 

The profit or loss is determined by the difference between the agreed-upon price and the actual market price of the stock at the time of settlement. Stock market futures provide opportunities for investors to leverage their capital, hedge against market risks, and potentially earn profits from price fluctuations in the stock market.

To Wrap It Up…

In conclusion, options and futures trading can be a dynamic and rewarding venture for those willing to dive into the world of financial derivatives. These instruments provide opportunities for speculation, hedging, and portfolio diversification.

By understanding the futures and options basics, learning effective trading strategies, and practising risk management, you can navigate the complexities of the market and potentially reap significant rewards. 

However, it’s crucial to approach these markets with caution and continuously educate oneself about market trends, news, and evolving regulations. Along with this, keeping a disciplined mindset, managing risks effectively, and seeking guidance when needed are key to success.

FAQs

1. Which is better, futures or options?

The choice between futures and options depends on individual trading preferences and investment objectives. Futures offer simplicity and straightforwardness, as they involve a direct obligation to buy or sell the underlying asset at a specified price. Options, on the other hand, provide the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell the underlying asset.

2. What factors affect the futures share price?

Several factors can impact the futures share price, including supply and demand dynamics, market sentiment, economic indicators, company-specific news, geopolitical events, and overall market trends.

3. What are derivatives?

Derivatives are financial instruments that derive their value from an underlying asset, such as stocks, bonds, commodities, or currencies. They are contracts between two or more parties, where the value of the derivative is based on the price movements of the underlying asset.

4. How to trade futures and options?

For buying futures and options, you typically need to open an account with a brokerage firm that offers derivatives trading. Once your account is set up, you can place orders for specific futures or options contracts through the broker’s trading platform.

5. How can I calculate F&O turnovers?

Futures and options turnover is determined by tallying the sales made by traders throughout the year. This total represents the overall turnover in futures and options trading.

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