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Commodity Trading Meaning

Commodity Trading Meaning

Commodities play an important role in our daily lives. A commodity is a basic good that is interchangeable in commerce with other goods of the same type. Iron ore, crude oil, and precious metals are examples of raw materials that power the global economy. Commodities provide unique opportunities for smart investors to profit from their fluctuating prices, but investing in commodities requires specialized knowledge and may carry more risk than traditional assets such as stocks and bonds.

Commodities trading used to require a significant amount of time, money, and expertise, and it was mostly reserved for professional traders. There are more ways to participate in commodity trading nowadays.

What is Commodity Trading?

Commodity trading is the exchange of various assets, usually futures contracts, based on the price of an underlying physical commodity. Investors make bets on the expected future value of a commodity by buying or selling futures contracts. If they believe the price of a commodity will rise, they buy certain futures contracts (or go long), and if they believe the price will fall, they sell other futures contracts (or go short).

Given the importance of commodities in daily life, commodity trading began long before modern financial markets as ancient empires established trade routes for exchanging goods.

Commodity trading is the true origin of modern investing. The commodities market is much more sophisticated nowadays. Not only is a wide range of commodities traded, but it is also a global market with exchanges all over the world. During the workweek, you can trade commodities nearly 24 hours a day.

Types of Commodity Market

India has various types of the commodity markets, which are listed below:

Multi Commodity Exchange – MCX

MCX stands for Multi Commodity Exchange. MCX trading is a commodity exchange, similar to how BSE trades company stocks. You can trade gold, silver, and other precious metals alongside agricultural commodities such as cotton and coffee. The MCX trading provides secure and transparent trade mechanisms while adhering to the regulatory framework. It is India's first commodity derivatives exchange, allowing for online commodity derivatives trading. MCX began operations in 2003 and is governed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange – NCDEX

The National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) is an Indian commodities exchange that primarily traded agricultural commodities. The National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange is headquartered in Mumbai, but it maintains offices throughout the country to facilitate trade.

Exchanges such as NCDEX have also played an important role in improving agricultural practices in India. The NCDEX trades a variety of agricultural commodities, including barley, wheat, and soybeans.

  1. National Multi Commodity Exchange – NMCE

The Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX), India's first listed exchange, is a cutting-edge commodity derivatives exchange that facilitates online commodity derivatives trading, providing a platform for price discovery and risk management.

Commodity trading principles to remember:

  • Before beginning to trade commodities, one must first understand the demand-supply dynamic that influences the daily price movement of these commodities.
  • Before making a trade, one should be aware of the actual demand for the commodity in the local markets. Furthermore, if one is trading in commodities such as gold, it is important to understand that global factors such as the yield movement on US Treasury bills affect gold prices all over the world.
  • Commodity trading carries a high level of risk, so one should carefully consider the implications of the leverage he or she is using.

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How to trade commodities?

There are several ways to trade commodities in your portfolio, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Invest in Commodity Broker

Commodity derivatives, such as futures contracts, can be traded if you have a brokerage account that allows it. However, futures contracts are primarily intended for large commodity companies rather than individuals.

When you trade futures with the help of a commodity broker, you must keep a certain amount of capital in your brokerage account, known as margin. One disadvantage of trading commodities is that the margin requirements are frequently lower than those for stocks.

When you trade on margin, you are trading with borrowed funds, which can magnify your losses. Given the volatility of commodity prices, it's critical to have enough resources on hand to cover any margin call, which is when your broker requests more money.

Invest in the commodity directly

Physically purchasing a commodity is the most straightforward way to invest in commodities. One benefit is that you do not need to go through a third party. Typically, you can find a dealer to sell you a specific good by conducting a simple internet search. When you no longer want it, the dealer will frequently buy it back from you. However, delivery and storage logistics must be worked out.

This may be relatively simple if you are purchasing gold. You can easily find a coin dealer who will sell you a bar or coin online. You can safely store it and sell it later if you want.

However, determining the delivery and storage of cattle, crude oil, or agricultural commodities such as bushels of corn becomes much more difficult. As a result, investing in most physical commodities is typically too difficult for individual investors.

Commodities Stock

Another option is to purchase stock in a company that deals with commodities. You could invest in an oil refining or drilling company for the oil, and in a large agriculture company or one that sells seeds for grain.

These types of stock investments track the underlying commodity's price. If oil prices rise, an oil company's profits should rise as well, causing its stock price to rise.

Investing in commodity stocks is less risky than investing in commodities directly because you are not betting solely on the commodity price. Even if the commodity's value falls, a well-run company can still make money. But it works both ways. While higher oil prices may benefit an oil company's stock price, other factors such as company management and total market share must also be considered. Buying stocks is not an exact match if you are looking for an investment that perfectly tracks a commodity price.

ETFs, mutual funds, and ETNs for commodities

Commodity-based mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and exchange-traded notes (ETNs) are also available. These funds pool the funds of many small investors to create a large portfolio that attempts to track the price of a commodity or a basket of commodities—for example, an energy mutual fund that invests in multiple energy commodities. The fund may purchase futures contracts to track the price of commodities, or it may invest in the stock of various companies with commodity exposure.

Managed Futures and Commodity Pools

Private funds that invest in commodities include commodity pools and managed futures. They are similar to mutual funds, except that many of them are not publicly traded, so you must be approved to invest in the fund.

These funds can employ more complex trading strategies than ETFs and mutual funds, allowing them to generate higher returns. In exchange, management costs may be increased.


Trading commodities is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. It can be an effective way to protect your portfolio from a bear market or inflation.

However, you should only consider it if you have a thorough understanding of the commodity market's supply and demand dynamics. This includes understanding historical price trends as well as what is happening in real-time. If you're just starting out, you can lower your risk by limiting your use of margin.

Much of commodity trading is speculative, rather than investing. Weather, disease, and natural disasters can all have a large impact on commodity prices in the short term. Commodity stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs are better options for most people looking to invest in commodities over the long term.

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