## Futures Trading 101: Symbols, Contract Months, Expiration and Specifications

**Futures Months **

- January – F
- February -G
- March – H
- April – J
- May – K
- June – M
- July – N
- August Q-
- September – U
- October – V
- November – X
- December – Z

## Futures Contracts Months Codes

JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

F | G | H | J | K | M |

JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

N | Q | U | V | X | Z |

## Futures Symbols 101

GC | Z | 18 |
---|---|---|

CONTRACT SYMBOL (Gold) | EXPIRATION MONTH (December) | EXPIRATION YEAR (2018) |

**Introduction – what is Futures Trading **

Futures Trading – The futures market is a volatile and rewarding market. Uniquely labeled and with meaning behind each character, understanding the language behind the futures market is critical to one’s success in trading. This blog post will delve into and decode the meaning behind the symbols in futures contracts and thus aid you on your path to understanding futures contracts.

To start, we will look at the way futures are denoted. The way that futures contracts are labeled is first by the symbol of the contract, then the symbol for what month the contract expires, and finally the year in which the contract expires.

For example, a gold future that expires in December 2018 would have the symbol: GCZ18 (GC December 2018).

### Futures Symbols 101

GC | Z | 18 |
---|---|---|

CONTRACT SYMBOL (Gold) | EXPIRATION MONTH (December) | EXPIRATION YEAR (2018) |

In the world of trading futures there are many different letters and symbols that correspond to different futures contracts, months of expiry, and exchanges which are denoted in the following graphics.

**Futures Month Symbols**

### Futures Contracts Months Codes

JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

F | G | H | J | K | M |

JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

N | Q | U | V | X | Z |

Below you can find the symbols associated with each month of expiry for future contracts. While the letters might seem erratically dispersed, this is most likely because the preceding letters already have associations in trading contexts ( A= Ask, B= Bid, C= Corn, E=Eggs, O= Oats, S= Soybeans, W= Wheat etc.). This leaves the remaining letters for the months of the year. However, the original future trading commodities dealt with agricultural resources, therefore corn and wheat are represented, while crude oil is not. While this explanation seems probable, there is no definitive reason for the letter choices but they are still globally accepted as the correct symbols.

**Futures Specifications Explained**

## Futures Specifications Explained

SYMBOL | FUTURE CONTRACT | EXCHANGE | FUTURES DELIVERY MONTH | MIN TICK | INITIAL MARGIN | TICK $ VALUE |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

DJ | Dow Jones Industrials | CBOT | H, M, U, Z | 1.000 | $3.550 | $10 |

ND | Nasdaq 100 | CME | H, M, U, Z | 0.250 | $4.290 | $25 |

SP | S&P 500 | CME | H, M, U, Z | 0.050 | $4.200 | $12.5 |

Below you can find the symbols associated with every kind of futures contract, whether they are exchanges, the month of delivery, the minimum tick size/price shift, and the $-value (amount of profit or loss incurred with each tick). You can also find the initial margin of each futures contract, which signifies the minimum amount to be available in your account as collateral for each contract that you have an open position on. When you purchase a futures contract, the initial margin is the minimum amount of money that must be deposited into your account which is refunded with any gains or losses when your contract is liquidated. The amount in this margin account fluctuates daily in response to the market in relation to your futures contract.

## What is “Min Tick”?

## What is “Tick Value”?

**Futures Symbol List**

## Currencies Futures Symbols

SYMBOL | FUTURE CONTRACT | EXCHANGE | FUTURES DELIVERY MONTH | MIN TICK | INITIAL MARGIN | TICK $ VALUE |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

AD | Australian Dollar | CME | H, M, U, Z | 0.010 | $1.430 | $10 |

BP | British Pound | CME | H, M, U, Z | 0.010 | $2.310 | $6.25 |

CD | Canadian Dollar | CME | H, M, U, Z | 0.010 | $1.045 | $10 |

DX | US Dollar Index | ICE | H, M, U, Z | 0.010 | $1.980 | $10 |

EU | EuroFx | CME | H, M, U, Z | 0.010 | $2.310 | $12.5 |

JU | Japanese Yen | CME | H, M, U, Z | 0.010 | $3.300 | $12.5 |

SF | Swiss Franc | CME | H, M, U, Z | 0.010 | $3.438 | $12.5 |

## Energies Futures Symbols

SYMBOL | FUTURE CONTRACT | EXCHANGE | FUTURES DELIVERY MONTH | MIN TICK | INITIAL MARGIN | TICK $ VALUE |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

CL | Crude Oil | NYM | F, G, H, J, K, M, N, Q, U, V, X, Z | 0.010 | $2.750 | $10 |

HO | NY Harbor ULSD/Heating oil | NYM | F, G, H, J, K, M, N, Q, U, V, X, Z | 0.010 | $3.300 | $4.2 |

HU | Unleaded Gas | NYM | F, G, H, J, K, M, N, Q, U, V, X, Z | 0.010 | $3.150 | $4.2 |

NG | Natural Gas | NYM | F, G, H, J, K, M, N, Q, U, V, X, Z | 0.001 | $2.090 | $1 |

RB | RBOB Gasoline | NYM | F, G, H, J, K, M, N, Q, U, V, X, Z | 0.010 | $3.520 | $4.2 |

ITCO/BRN | Brent Crude | ICE | F, G, H, J, K, M, N, Q, U, V, X, Z | 0.010 | $4.070 | $10 |

## Meats Futures Symbols

SYMBOL | FUTURE CONTRACT | EXCHANGE | FUTURES DELIVERY MONTH | MIN TICK | INITIAL MARGIN | TICK $ VALUE |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

FC | Feeder Cattle | CME | F, H, J, K, Q, U, V, X | 0.025 | $4.263 | $12.5 |

LC | Live Cattle | CME | G, J, M, Q, U, V, Z | 0.025 | $2.255 | $10 |

HE | Lean Hogs | CME | G, J, K, M, N, Q, V, Z | 0.025 | $1.320 | $10 |

DA | Milk class III | CME | F, G, H, J, K, M, N, Q, U, V, X, Z | 0.010 | $1.300 | $20 |

## Grains & Soy Complex Futures Symbols

SYMBOL | FUTURE CONTRACT | EXCHANGE | FUTURES DELIVERY MONTH | MIN TICK | INITIAL MARGIN | TICK $ VALUE |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

BO | Soybean Oil | CBOT | F, H, K, N, Q, U, V, Z | 0.010 | $935 | $6 |

C | Corn | CBOT | F, H, K, N, U, X, Z | 0.250 | $935 | $12.5 |

KW | Kansas City Wheat | KCBT | H, K, N, U, Z | 0.250 | $1.250 | $12.5 |

MW | Minneapolis Wheat | MGE | H, K, N, U, Z | 0.250 | $2.250 | $12.5 |

O | Oats | CBOT | H, K, N, U, Z | 0.250 | $880 | $12.5 |

S | Soybeans | CBOT | F, H, K, N, Q, U, X | 0.250 | $2.310 | $12.5 |

SM | Soybeans Meal | CBOT | F, H, K, N, Q, U, V, Z | 0.100 | $1.980 | $10 |

W | Wheat | CBOT | H, K, N, U, Z | 0.250 | $1.320 | $12.5 |

## Metals Futures Symbols

SYMBOL | FUTURE CONTRACT | EXCHANGE | FUTURES DELIVERY MONTH | MIN TICK | INITIAL MARGIN | TICK $ VALUE |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

GC | Gold | CMX | G, J, M, Q, V, Z | 0.100 | $4.345 | $10 |

HG | Copper | CMX | H, K, N, U, Z | 0.050 | $2.640 | $12.5 |

PL | Platinum | NYM | F, J, N, V | 0.100 | $2.090 | $5 |

SI | Silver | CMX | H, K, N, U, Z | 0.005 | $5.500 | $0.25 |

## Interest Rates Futures Symbols

SYMBOL | FUTURE CONTRACT | EXCHANGE | FUTURES DELIVERY MONTH | MIN TICK | INITIAL MARGIN | TICK $ VALUE |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

ED | Eurodollars | CME | H, M, U, Z | 0.005 | $3.850 | $12.5 |

FV | 5-Yr T-Notes | CBOT | H, M, U, Z | 0.016 | $770 | $15.625 |

MB | Municipal Bonds | CBOT | H, M, U, Z | 0.031 | $3.150 | $31.25 |

TU | 2-Yr T-Notes | CBOT | H, M, U, Z | 0.008 | $462 | $15.625 |

TY | 10-Yr T-Notes | CBOT | H, M, U, Z | 0.016 | $1.430 | $15.625 |

US | 30-Yr T-Notes | CBOT | H, M, U, Z | 0.031 | $3.850 | $31.25 |

## Soft & Fibers Futures Symbols

SYMBOL | FUTURE CONTRACT | EXCHANGE | FUTURES DELIVERY MONTH | MIN TICK | INITIAL MARGIN | TICK $ VALUE |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

RR | Rice | CBOT | F, H, K, N, U, X | 0.500 | $975 | $50 |

CC | Cocoa | ICE | H, K, N, U, Z | 1.000 | $1.595 | $10 |

CT | Cotton | ICE | H, K, N, U, Z | 0.010 | $2.530 | $5 |

KC | Coffee | ICE | H, K, N, U, Z | 0.050 | $2.970 | $18.75 |

LB | Lumber | CME | F, H, K, N, U, X | 0.100 | $1.595 | $11 |

JO | Orange Juice | ICE | F, H, K, N, U, X | 0.050 | $1.600 | $7.5 |

SB | Sugar #11 | ICE | H, K, N, V | 0.010 | $1.232 | $11.2 |

**Conclusion**

Overall, the Futures Market is a bit more difficult to begin trading in, due to the specific terminology and highly competitive nature. However, associated with the large risk is the chance to succeed with high profits as well. The advantages posed by futures are not attractive to every trader due to the specific nature of futures and aforementioned challenges, but by remaining informed and adhering to a strong trading strategy one is easily able to stay ahead of the curve by understanding and avoiding mistakes.

Learn more about futures trading:

### What are Futures and how do they work?

### BONUS – Desktop Background – Futures Trading