A futures contract is a financial instrument that enables buyers and sellers to trade assets in the future at a set price and date. In the field of finance, this is a type of derivative contract that originated in the agricultural sector. Since then, it has become a popular tool among investors and traders in various markets, including commodities, currencies, and stocks. In this article, we`ll explore the basic concept of a futures contract in economics.

Definition of Futures Contract

A futures contract is a binding agreement between two parties that obliges them to buy or sell a particular financial instrument or asset at a specific price and date in the future. The buyer of the futures contract agrees to purchase the underlying asset, while the seller agrees to sell it. The underlying asset can be anything from a commodity such as wheat, oil, or gold, to bonds, stocks, or currency.

The price and date of the futures contract are specified in advance, and the buyer and seller must honor the agreement regardless of any price changes or market fluctuations. This means that both parties are taking on a certain amount of risk, as the price of the underlying asset may go up or down by the time the contract matures.

Uses of Futures Contracts

Futures contracts serve various purposes in the financial markets. Here are some of the key uses:

Hedging: Futures contracts enable investors to hedge their positions by buying or selling a contract to offset their risk. For example, a wheat farmer may sell a futures contract to lock in the price of wheat for the next harvest season, thus protecting against price fluctuations.

Speculation: Futures contracts are also used by traders and speculators who want to profit from the price movements of the underlying asset. For example, a trader may buy a futures contract on gold, expecting the price to rise in the future and make a profit when they sell it.

Arbitrage: Futures contracts can be used to take advantage of price differences between different markets. For example, if the price of gold is higher in one market than another, a trader could buy gold in the lower-priced market and sell it in the higher-priced market to make a profit.


In summary, a futures contract is a binding agreement between parties to buy or sell an underlying asset at a set price and date in the future. They are used to hedge, speculate, and arbitrage in various financial markets. Understanding futures contracts is essential for investors and traders who want to participate in these markets and manage their risk effectively.