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Futures Trading: How Fortunes Are Made

Aug 17, 2007
If there ever was one business that has made a lot of people a lot of money it is futures trading, also known as commodity futures. This is one business that has made millionaires and multi-millionaires in a very short time while starting up with relatively small capital investments.

Just what is a "futures trading"? Loosely defined, a future is an agreement to buy or sell a given quantity of a particular commodity at specified future date at a pre-arranged price. You "speculate" the direction prices will take and decide to buy or sell based on that. Prices are, to a degree, predictable.

The money-making potential in futures trading is astounding. Examples; John Henry started with $16,000 and amassed a wealth worth more than $1.5 billion. Richard Dennis borrowed $1600 and made $200 million in about ten years. Granted, these examples are atypical. But you can see the potential.

Unlike other forms of business and trading such as real estate, stocks, brick-and-mortar etc., where you have to wait years to see any substantial returns, futures market is immediate.

Better still, you can start from your kitchen table, you never physically handle or deliver the commodities, nor market or advertise, and you can buy or sell large or small quantities.

You also have choice of a wide range of commodities from gold, grains, crude oil, gasoline, currencies, and agricultural products and many more to choose from.

As with any business where you can make lots of money fast, you can also loose lots of money fast. This is one reason why this business is not for everyone. It is certainly not for those who tend to get emotional when things seem not go as intended.

Actually, the more you're able to keep your emotions in check, the more money you can make as panic and hysteria are commodity traders' best friend.

When starting out, you might make losses. This is expected and may be a good thing as early success can give you a false impression about your own abilities, and lead to disaster. Loss should be treated as part of business and learning process. The key is to limit your losses by learning to trade like a professional. How?

Professionals approach futures as a business, as opposed to the slot-machine, hit-or-miss approach most people make. And, as with any business you need to understand how the market works.

This means learning as much as you can about the business. And no, you don't have to pay $2500 to attend some seminar to learn "insider secrets". You would be better off if you could take a trip to Chicago or New York Board of Trade and observe professionals at it. You'll learn more this way than in any seminar.

Back to limiting losses. One way of limiting loss (risk management) is placing a stop-loss order on a trade. You pre-determine the amount of risk you are going to take, and stick to it. Successful traders always have a stop-loss order before initiating a trade.

Trading without a stop loss order can have catastrophic effects, especially to the inexperienced trader as they can find themselves unable to pull the plug until it's too late.

Another key is diversification. As they say "never put all your eggs in the same basket". A rule of thumb is not to risk more than ten percent of your equity in any one trade, thus preventing losing all your money in one or two bad trades.

Amateurs also make the mistake of re-investing all their earnings, and then loosing it all down the road. Professionals pull their profits and start small again, making small capital increments to facilitate growth.

Good record keeping is also important in that it shows you what is working and what is not, as well as the patterns.

Contrary to what you may have heard you don't need a lot of money to get started in commodity trading. A good brokerage firm can help you get started without spending a fortune.

Details of running a successful futures trading business are beyond the scope of this article. The best investment you can make is to spend time learning how the business works, starting with the basics.
About the Author
David Kamau owns Mercantilecentral.com Learn how to trade like a pro and make consistent profits trading futures. Go to: How to Trade the Futures Market
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