DEFINITION of 'Actuals'
The physical commodity that underlies a futures contract or is traded in the physical market. This is the homogeneous commodity that is the basis for trade, either through the physical market or a derivative contract such as oil, corn or gold.
BREAKING DOWN 'Actuals'
Actuals are traded in either the physical market or the futures market. In the physical market, two parties enter into a private agreement to exchange the commodity for cash or another commodity, and delivery almost always occurs. In the futures market, two parties enter into an exchange-traded contract in which one party agrees to deliver a set quantity and quality of the underlying commodity while the other party agrees to purchase the commodity. In this case, delivery is not certain and parties can sell their positions before delivery.