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What is futures discount? It's when futures trade below spot prices, unlike a premium.

TraderKnows
TraderKnows
04-26

Lower future prices often indicate a tight supply market, strong or rising demand, but changing market conditions and supply-demand dynamics can also lead to continuous price fluctuations.

What is Futures Backwardation?

Futures backwardation refers to the situation where the future delivery price of a futures contract is lower than the current spot price or spot index price. The occurrence of backwardation generally indicates a market where supply is relatively tight and demand is relatively robust or rising. Here are some of the reasons that may lead to backwardation.

  1. Market supply shortage: When the market supply is relatively scarce, the price of futures contracts may be lower than the spot price. This may be due to material shortages, production issues, weather impacts, or policy restrictions leading to insufficient supply.
  2. Increased market demand: If market demand suddenly rises and supply cannot immediately meet demand, the price of futures contracts may be lower than the spot price. This may be due to seasonal demand increases, sudden events, economic recovery, or other factors causing demand to rise.
  3. Delivery period approaching: As the delivery date of a futures contract approaches, the market may experience backwardation. Investors wish to deliver the spot goods to the buyer of the futures contract as soon as possible, so the spot price may be higher than the futures price.

However, backwardation is not constant, and market conditions and the supply-demand relationship continually change. Investors looking to capitalize on backwardation for investing need to conduct thorough market analysis and risk management and seek professional investment advice before making any investment.

The Difference Between Futures Backwardation and Contango?

Futures backwardation and contango describe two different situations regarding the pricing of futures contracts relative to spot prices. Backwardation refers to the situation where the future delivery price of a futures contract is lower than the current spot price or spot index price, with futures prices being lower than spot prices. In contrast, contango refers to the situation where the future delivery price of a futures contract is higher than the current spot price or spot index price, with futures prices being higher than spot prices.

Although the existence of backwardation and contango can provide some investment opportunities and market signals, investors still need to understand the differences between the two to make more reasonable profits from holding futures contracts through the phenomena of contango or backwardation. Below are some common differences between backwardation and contango.

  1. Definition: Backwardation refers to the situation where the price of a futures contract is lower than the spot price, while contango refers to the situation where the price of a futures contract is higher than the spot price.
  2. Reasons: The occurrence of backwardation generally indicates a market where supply is relatively tight and demand is relatively strong or rising. Conversely, the occurrence of contango generally indicates a market where supply is relatively abundant, and demand is relatively weak or declining.
  3. Significance: Backwardation is often seen as a normal market condition because it reflects the supply and demand situation in the market. It may lead to arbitrage opportunities and hedging opportunities. In contrast, contango is often seen as an abnormal condition, possibly signaling market uncertainty or a potential oversupply, leading to arbitrage opportunities and storage arbitrage opportunities.
  4. Market conditions: The occurrences and variations of backwardation and contango are affected by multiple factors, including market supply-demand relationships, logistics costs, seasonal demand, economic factors, policy changes, etc.

It's important to note that backwardation and contango are not fixed; market conditions and the supply-demand relationship constantly change, requiring investors to conduct thorough market analysis and risk management.

How Can Investors Utilize Futures Backwardation for Investment?

One strategy for investors to capitalize on futures backwardation is through arbitrage trading, aimed at profiting from price differences under controlled risk. Below are some arbitrage strategies for investing utilizing futures backwardation.

  1. Basis arbitrage: The basis is the difference between the spot price and the futures price. In backwardation, the spot price is higher than the futures price. Investors might sell futures contracts while simultaneously buying spot goods to profit from the basis. The goal is to deliver the spot goods to the buyer of the futures contract on the delivery date, thereby earning the basis profit.
  2. Delivery arbitrage: In backwardation, investors can take advantage of the delivery arbitrage strategy. This strategy involves simultaneously selling futures contracts and buying spot goods, then delivering the spot goods to the buyer of the futures contract on the delivery date. By doing this, investors can earn the price difference benefit from backwardation.
  3. Storage arbitrage: In the case of backwardation, investors may consider storage arbitrage. This involves purchasing spot goods and storing them in a warehouse while selling an equivalent number of futures contracts. When the futures contracts are due for delivery, the investor can deliver the spot goods to the buyer of the futures contract, thereby profiting from the difference between spot and futures prices. Storage arbitrage is typically applicable to storable commodities such as agricultural products or energy products.

When investing using futures backwardation, it's essential to conduct thorough market analysis and risk management. Investors should closely monitor market supply and demand conditions, delivery deadlines, storage costs, and relevant policies to make informed investment decisions. Additionally, investors should carefully select trading platforms and futures brokers, and comply with trading regulations and laws. Before making any investment, it is advisable to seek professional investment advice.

Risk Warning and Disclaimer

The market carries risks, and investment should be cautious. This article does not constitute personal investment advice and has not taken into account individual users' specific investment goals, financial situations, or needs. Users should consider whether any opinions, viewpoints, or conclusions in this article are suitable for their particular circumstances. Investing based on this is at one's own responsibility.

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Wiki

Futures Contract

A futures contract refers to a standardized agreement, set by a futures exchange, to buy or sell a specified quantity of an underlying asset at a predetermined future date and location.

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