Learn about the 5 major classes of Standard CA futures markets you can trade:
– Stock indexes
– Ags / grains
– Bonds / Notes
Each of these markets has many different qualities that can make it a good (or bad) fit for you as a day trader. Let's go down the list and take a look at what our options look like. Stock indexes are the most popular by far. The E-mini ES, YM, NQ and the mighty Russell are the four most popular names to day traders mostly because they have the most marketing towards retail traders like yourself. 15 years ago these didn't exist, and they have become one of the most liquid and active markets available to trade.
Day Trading Stock indexes
Stock indexes are considered range-bound markets and they trade the entire US trading session from 930am est and close at 415pm est Monday through Friday. Stock indexes are known for having most of the volume traded in the morning so I focus personally on the morning session to make sure I get the best moves, but there is ample opportunity in the afternoons as well.
Being range-bound markets means that these stock index futures such as the ES will not have large trading ranges compared to other markets such as commodities or currencies. With lots of liquidity comes the difficulty of breaking out of sideways trading ranges, and anyone who trades the ES knows exactly what sideways ranges are. I like to focus on buying the lows and selling the highs using simple price reversal strategies for markets like stock index futures because they are range-bound and will tend to stay inside their respective trading ranges.
Day Trading Currencies
Currencies are some of my favorite markets to trade. Not only do currencies trade 24 hours a day around the world giving us plenty of opportunities to trade, but currencies are heavily correlated to the US Dollar Index, which makes them very easy to project direction and reversals. Currencies are considered breakout markets, which mean they tend to break through their highs and lows, rather than stay inside their respective ranges. Compared to the stock index futures, currencies are explosive and move much faster. I love to buy pullbacks and price breakouts on the Euro, Pound, Aussie and Yen.
Standard CA Commodity Futures Day Trading For Profits
California Commodity futures are where I like to make the most of my profit each day, and I think you will agree when you see how well they move. Crude oil, gold, silver, natural gas, these are markets that have just the perfect balance of liquidity and volatility to make a day trader an incredible income. Unlike stock index futures, commodities tend to explode through previous highs and they also are very easy to trade when they go sideways or range-bound. Commodities also trade almost 24 hours a day just like currencies which make them very attractive to traders from all over the world and with turmoil in global markets in the predictable future these Standard CA commodities will be liquid and volatile for decades to come.
I think crude oil and gold futures are the best of all options. They are easily traded when flat, they always move, they have low margins, they trade early in the morning (8am EST) and they have lots of patterns for me to day trade with each day. Gold and crude is truly a day trader's best friend in my opinion.
Agricultural and Grains (AGS) are widely known as being a very small niche in the futures markets that only a few select traders really ever understand. Be prepared to study crop reports instead of news releases, and you only have a very small window of time to day trade markets such as wheat, corn and soybeans. With short market hours, large margins because of heavily speculation and the need to REALLY know what you're doing this is a very tough market to enter into without a lot of experience. Most day traders working with wheat, corn and soybeans are actually hedgers working for large farms and major corporations in which the need to hedge their crop or supply is their main objective.
Volume is also a major concern for trading grains, and that explains why day trading margins on grains/ags have gone through the roof. With heavily speculation in the cost of wheat globally there have been numerous occasions when markets like wheat have been 'limit up/down' which is very dangerous for a new trader. If day trading was like juggling, day trading ags would be using 12 balls instead of 3… it's just more work than you need in my opinion. Stick to something simpler and make your work much easier. The problem with a lot of liquidity is that you rarely see big moves in the market because there are so many buyers for every seller that it takes a small miracle for the price to move up or down by simply 1 tick.
The ES is like this, the Eurostoxx 50 in Germany is like this, and here in the US you have the notes and the bonds with too much volume for its own good. One of the things you notice write away on the bonds or notes is that they literally 'chug' along, tick up and tick down, never moving more than 1 or 2 ticks at a time… and I mean never. This is good if you're looking to trade in longer periods of time because moves in the market takes days and weeks to develop, but if you're like me and want to earn income in minutes rather than days this market will put you to sleep most days.
This market has rock-bottom margins because there is no volatility, and it does have a strong dollar index correlation, but with so much liquidity there are very few patterns each day, which really doesn't fit well with a day trader, so I tend to skip this market option.
As you can see there are plenty of alternatives for a Standard CA commodities futures day trader, and also this review should help you make an educated choice regarding which futures market is right for you. Finding a futures market that fits your personality and finding one you can trade is an incredibly demanding battle within itself. Inside my report on the best markets for day trading futures I broke the markets down into 5 major categories.