Day Trading 101: Options vs. Futures

Some novice investors toss around the terms options and futures like they are interchangeable, when in fact, they are actually two very different things. Both involve the purchase or sale of a future commodity such as stocks or bonds, but the conditions of the sale are what set them apart. Options and futures are also both ways to hedge your investments, which means they reduce your financial risk if the market goes sour.

Futures

In the stock market, a futures contract is an agreement between two parties to buy or sell a set amount of stocks by a predetermined date. However, where this gets tricky, is that investors can also sell their futures contract. Investors are typically in the long position because they agree to buy the stocks. Businesses are in the short position because they agree to sell the stock according to the terms of the contract. However, investors can go short if they sell the futures contract. Typically investors pay an upfront 20% investment called a margin. During the term of the contract though, they never actually own the stocks; they just have the rights to purchase the stocks at a later date. For example, say you agree to buy 200 shares of Apple stock at $100 per share by June 1st. Your futures contract is worth $20,000 at the time you enter the agreement. If the stock goes up to $125, you can sell the contract early and make a considerable profit. If the value of the stock goes down, you will lose more than your initial investment. Futures are considered a high-risk investment. Once you enter into a futures contract you are obligated to buy or sell that stock upon expiration unless you sell the futures contract to someone else first.

Options

The biggest difference between futures and options is that with an option contract you are not obligated to purchase the commodity when the contract comes to term. However, you do have to pay an upfront premium fee. If you choose not to purchase the stocks then you forfeit the premium fee. Returning to the Apple example, you can purchase an options contract to buy 200 shares of stock at $100 each for $2,000. If for some reason the stock plummets to $100 per share, you can forfeit your option and you only lose the premium fee of $2,000 instead paying $20,000 for stock that is only worth $10,000. Because investors are not obligated to fulfill options contracts as they were with futures contracts, options are considered a much lower-risk form of investment.

Any type of speculative investment comes with risk. Although options are safer than futures, both should be approached conservatively if you are a novice investor. Most investors that buy futures and options have years of experience with the stock market and top-notch financial advisors. However, if you are interested in trading stocks and futures than it is a good idea to speaking with a reputable financial advisor before making any investments.

About the Author: Natisha Antill is a finance student who is seriously considering entering the world of day trading when she has more time to focus on a plan. She enjoys reading Timothy Sykes reviews and studying the procedures used by today’s most successful traders.

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Barron’s Magazine Review – Helping You with Investments

If you work in the financial or investment sectors then you are probably already aware of the Barron’s magazine.  It is a weekly journal that includes two sections which I will go on to describe below.  This Barron’s Magazine Review is intended to be completely independent – I have been subscribed to this magazine for six months now so think I am in a good position to give an un-biased overview of what you can expect should you decide to subscribe to Barron’s Magazine.

Barron’s Magazine Review – What’s Included?

The first section of Barron’s includes useful editorial and content such as the latest news, financial stories, guest interviews, and business of trading analysis.  There are articles included from a very wide selection of subject matter.  For example, want to know about stocks, bonds, and the global economy?  Then section one will definitely interest you.  There is also content related to all the global markets, commodities, and share options.

What I have found most useful though in the first section is the columns related to stocks. These are accompanied by fund manager interviews with special detailed analysis and articles relating to specific featured industries and companies.

Moving on to section two (which is a pull-out insert inside the middle of the magazine) which is more focused on niche areas – for example commodities and stock options.  Personally I do not think that these are covered as comprehensively as they could be as the stock tables that are listed can be seen listed in real-time on the web (or even on Barrons.com).  However, I do like the fact that some of the less popular economic indicators are listed, which is sometimes hard to find online.

The Benefits to a Barron’s Magazine Subscription

Barron’s Magazine lists stock that could work for you – but as with any stock advice it makes no sense for you to simply rush out and buy it just because you have seen it recommended in Barron’s.  This is an investment publication that is intended to offer you insight on research and you should consider it simply as a guide for inspiration.

A Barron’s Magazine subscription should be your help in educating you on the issues that related to the different companies and industries that you are thinking about investing in rather than be viewed as the be all and end all of financial stock trading advice.  That’s how I use Barron’s… if I see something in there that looks promising then I will get online and start doing my own additional research so that any decisions I make are fully investigated, ratified, and I understand the inherent purchase risks.

Your job as a financial investor is to take the information that you see in the Barron’s Magazine and then take their analysis and combine it with all the other detail and information that you can find in order to make the best decisions for you and your portfolio.

Barron’s Magazine Review – Conclusion

So to conclude, I would recommend Barron’s Magazine to any person, whether professional or a bedroom trader to subscribe to the magazine.  There is plenty of information inside to help inform and keep you abreast on current developments.  You should view it as another weapon in your financial analysis arsenal – as the picks and stock recommendations in there are typically very good.  However, it’s your money that you are playing with so don’t just take the advice for granted… act with your own set of due diligence methods.  If you do this then you should find that the Barron’s Magazine is a very useful asset for years to come when it comes to trading in stocks and shares.

Author Credit:

James Ashby regular writes guest columns for some of the leading financial websites plus some of the many different Wall Street print-based publications.  If you want to know more about the Barron’s offering then please read James’ full post on this subject on the Wall Street Subscriptions’ website.  You can read the full review on this Barron’s Magazine Review page.

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