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E-Mini Futures

Updated on April 9, 2024
Article byPriya Choubey
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Are E-Mini Futures?

E-mini futures are futures contracts representing a smaller portion of the standard futures’ value. These contracts are bought and sold online, comprising indexes, currencies, and commodities. The purpose of these contracts is to provide market participants with a more accessible and flexible way to trade futures contracts.

E-Mini Futures

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Source: E-Mini Futures (wallstreetmojo.com)

The “E” in E-mini is “electronic,” as these contracts are traded electronically rather than through open outcry on the trading floor. Chicago Mercantile Exchange is the first and most commonly used trading platform for the electronic exchange of these contracts. E-mini S&P 500 is one of the most popular E-minis globally.

Key Takeaways

  • E-mini futures are the financial derivatives formed by a small portion of the overall valuation of a full-sized futures contract. 
  • It enables traders and investors to exchange the assets like commodities, indices, and currencies at a future date by investing considerably less than traditional futures.
  • The E-mini S&P 500 futures contract is the foremost e-minis released in September 1997 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
  • These contracts benefit retail investors, traders, or new futures market entrants holding smaller trading accounts.
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E-Mini Futures Explained

E-mini futures are the compact version of the regular futures contracts that holds a chunk of the latter’s valuation. Hence, these assets are subject to the exact requirements and regulations as the standard futures contracts over the futures exchanges.

These contracts were first introduced on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) in September 1997, when an E-mini future S&P 500 was designed that was S&P 500’s one-fifth of value. After that, many E-mini futures were formed that were a small proportion of the top indices – NASDAQ 100, Russel 2000, and Dow Jones; commodities – gold, copper, silver, and crude oil; and currencies – G7 currencies and EUR/USD. E-mini futures based on the S&P 500 index are among the most popular and actively traded futures contracts.

Therefore, day traders frequently use E-mini futures contracts to invest in top-notch global companies, which is otherwise impossible for small individual traders. Therefore,  as the online market is always open, I.e., 24×7, the traders can choose their trading hours according to their convenience. Furthermore, the commission rates for trading E-mini futures can vary among brokers.

The commission structure is typically based on a per-contract basis or a flat fee per trade. Hence, when choosing a broker for E-mini futures trading. It’s essential to consider the commission structure and weigh other factors such as trading platform features, customer support, reliability, and overall value provided by the broker.

The futures contracts are very complex assets; a significant drawback of E-minis is their sensitivity and volatility to the global market. Additionally, trading on leveraged funds can sometimes result in a loss if things go the other way around. Thus, traders need to understand the mechanics of E-mini futures, market dynamics, and risk management principles before engaging in futures trading.

How To Trade?

Trading e-mini futures contracts involves buying and selling futures with a particular index, such as the S&P 500 or Nasdaq 100. Therefore, to get started with e-mini futures trading, the following steps can be undertaken:

  1. Understand the futures trading basics, including contract specifications, trading hours, margin requirements, and order types.
  2. Find and select a broker that offers e-mini futures and open a trading account with them.
  3. Develop a trading strategy that includes entry and exit points, risk management rules, and position sizing guidelines.
  4. Therefore, it is advisable to opt for a demo account for mock trading to get familiar with the trading platform and test the strategy.
  5. Identify potential trading opportunities while monitoring market conditions, news, economic indicators, and technical analysis. Also, keep track of your open positions and adjust your strategy as needed.
  6. Manage the risk level carefully and be prepared to close the positions if market conditions change or the stop loss or profit targets are achieved.

However, these futures trading has high risk and can only reap returns with a proper trading plan and risk management strategy. It is the best to consult a financial advisor before investing in the futures market.

Chart

The E-mini futures contracts trade in various futures markets worldwide. The E-mini S&P is the most popular one; today, we will go through the all-time price chart of this e-mini, ES1:

E-Mini Futures Chart

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Currently, the ES1! Trades at $4138.50 with a contract size of 50.

The concept can be explained using a chart from TradingView, as given below. In this NASDAQ, If a trader wants to trade with positive results, it is necessary to identify the entry and exit points and follow the position sizing rules. In this case, the entry point is 18458.8 and the exit point is 18315.2. The stop loss is very important and should be in place to avoid any loss due to unexpected reversals in the opposite direction. The concept also requires continuous monitoring and strategy adjustment for maximum profits.

Source

E-Mini Futures vs Futures

E-minis are the smaller version of full-sized future contracts. Both are financial derivatives that enable traders to exchange the underlying assets, such as a stock, index, or commodity, on the future price. However, there are below-mentioned differences between the two:

BasisE-Mini FuturesFutures
OverviewThese are the small-sized futures contracts that value only a chunk of the full-sized futures contract.Futures are financial derivatives that allow traders and investors to buy or sell stocks, indices, commodities, and currencies at a specific price on a future date.
SizeSmaller in sizeFull size or large
Margin RequirementsLow margin requirements and capital investmentHigh margin requirements and capital investment
Trading HoursExtended trading hours, like E-mini S&P 500 trades 23 hours a dayComparatively shorter trading hours, like the S&P 500, trade for 21 hours in a day
LiquidityHigh liquidity since many buyers and sellers are engaged in tradingRelatively low
Suitable ForRetail traders or investors with small trading accountsInstitutional buyers and High Net Worth individual traders or investors
ExamplesE-mini S&P 500, E-mini NASDAQ 100, E-mini Dow, E-mini Russel 2000, E-mini Euro FX FuturesS&P 500, NASDAQ 100, Dow Jones Industrial Average Index Futures, Russel 2000

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are micro e-mini futures?

Micro e-mini futures are even smaller size futures contracts than e-minis as they hold only one-tenth value of the standard e-mini futures contracts. The Micro E-mini S&P 500 Index Futures (MESW00) is trading at $4142.25 on May 16, 2023.

2. What happens when an e-mini futures contract expires?

The futures contracts always bear an expiration date. The e-minis like e-mini S&P 500, e-mini Dow, and e-mini NASDAQ expire quarterly. After the e-minis expire, the traders or investors often receive a cash settlement against their holding. Thus, the shareholder’s account is either credited (for profit) or debited (for loss) according to the closing market price of the contract on the last day.

3. How Much Does an E-mini S&P 500 Contract Cost?

One unit of the E-mini S&P 500 is the 50th portion of one unit of the S&P 500. It means that if the S&P 500 fluctuates by $50, E-mini S&P 500 shows a price movement of $1. As of May 15, 2023, one E-Mini S&P 500 Future Continuous Contract unit is $4143 with a contract size of 50.

This article has been a guide to what are E-Mini Futures. Here, we explain how to trade them, a chart, and a comparison with futures. You may also find some useful articles here –

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