Futures trading is now a 24 hour, seven days a week enterprise, and undoubtedly the main reason you are researching it. Like all financial instruments, the futures market is highly regulated, but not by the SEC. From crops such as corn or wheat, to oil, gold, and currency, commodities get traded on the futures market. Rice was undoubtedly the very first commodity traded at the original market of the Chinese. Here in the U.S. it began more than 150 years ago at the Chicago Board of Trade with the first agricultural futures contract. In 1982 options on futures was introduced, and in the 1990's exchanges introduced electronic trading. In today's market, because of automated software platforms traders cannot only compete with the pros, they can use these robots 24 hours a day. With limited exceptions, the trading of futures must be executed on the floor of a commodity exchange. Similar to broker-dealers that are members of the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. or some other self-regulatory organization, all firms and individuals who trade futures with the public or give advice about futures trading must be registered with the National Futures Association (NFA).
Since most individual traders are speculators, here is a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages of the futures market over other investment possibilities.
1. The possibilities exist that a person can make more money faster in the futures market, because the speed of prices tend to change faster than stocks. Conversely, bad judgment can cause one to suffer greater losses than traditional investments.
2. Futures are highly leveraged investments. The trader only puts up about 15-20% as a margin, yet still being able to ride the full amount of the contract. Unlike stocks where at least 50% of its value has to be put up, and the investor pays interest on the difference between the margin and the full contract value.
3. For the most part there is no inside trading. Everyone has the same insider's information on the weather, for example. This is an open outcry market, very public, which insures a fair outcome.
4. Commission charges on futures trades are small compared to other investments, and the investor pays them after the position is liquidated.
5. Most commodity markets are very broad and liquid. Transactions can be completed quickly, lowering the risk of adverse market moves between the time of the decision to trade and the trade's execution.
Let us assume that you have some knowledge or you wouldn't be researching the market. Any training you receive should be for technical analysis, or you are just wasting time and money. As far as software platforms, the following suggestions I strongly feel are necessary for any software to be useful.
1. It must be able to offer live streaming technical data. (Otherwise the program is merely educational)
2. The platform should defiantly include candlestick charting.
3. Visually it has to be large enough for all the data to be seen easily. (Many of the online brokerage's technical data are too small to be useful)
4. It must be cost effective. (Most good systems can be purchased for between one and two hundred dollars)
These are just a few ideas for tools that you can utilize to increase your chances for success. I don't profess to being an expert, but I do know of some. I obviously don't have the time to go into all the details now, but at my site Market Mentalist you will find all you need to know about investing online. There is access to some of the top trading systems available including state of the art software, books, newsletters, and Forums. Also you will find the most up to date articles on Online Trading, including additional information on Commodity Online Trading...Commodities in Your Future . Whether you are an inquisitive novice or a seasoned pro Market Mentalist offers the online investment resource you just might be seeking