Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: E-Mini Specifications
  1. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Introduction
  2. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: What Are The E-Minis?
  3. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: E-Mini Characteristics
  4. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: E-Mini Specifications
  5. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Who Trades The E-Minis?
  6. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Trading The E-Minis
  7. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Other E-Mini Contracts

Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: E-Mini Specifications

Each e-mini contract has certain specifications as outlined by its host exchange.

Ticker Symbol
Each contract has a ticker symbol, or an arrangement of letters representing the specific contract. These symbols are used by traders to create price charts and to execute trades in the market. Often, e-mini traders refer to the contract by its ticker symbol rather than the contract name. A trader may say, for example, "I am long the TF" instead of "I am long the e-mini Russell 2000."

Since the e-mini S&P 500 contract is so popular and trades under such high volume, it is referred to as both the "ES" and simply the "e-mini."

Exchange
The exchange is the marketplace where the contract is traded. The function of the exchange is to ensure fair and orderly trading, and to provide efficient dissemination of price information. While both CME and ICE have physical locations where certain contracts are still traded on the floor, all of the e-mini contracts are electronically traded.

Contract Size
The contract size is the value of the contract based on the price of the futures contracts times a multiplier. The e-mini Russell 2000, for example, has a contract size of $100 x Index price, meaning that if the Russell 2000 futures price is $840, the contract size would be $84,000 ($100 x $840).

Tick Size
The tick is the minimum fluctuation in price allowed for a futures contract during a trading session. Each tick represents a certain dollar amount in terms of price movement. For example, the smallest price fluctuation for the ES is 25 cents, where each tick represents $12.50. Since the ES tick size is 0.25, one point would be equal to four ticks (0.25 x 4 = 1), or a value of $50. Similarly, the TF has a tick size of 0.10 equal to $10. One point would be equal to ten ticks (0.10 x 10 = 1), or a value of $100.

Contract Months
A contract month is the month in which a futures contract expires. All of the e-mini stock index futures contracts trade on the March quarterly expiration cycle (March, June, September and December). Each month is represented by a single letter, as shown in Figure 5.


Figure 5: Contract month codes. The contract month codes. The ES, NQ, TF, YM and EMD use the March quarterly cycle, with contract months H, M, U and Z.

While "TF" represents the e-mini Russell 2000 futures contract, traders need to specify the particular contract, including the expiration month and the year in which the contract is traded. The complete contract name for the March 2012 TF contract, shown in Figure 6, would be TFH12:

Figure 6: E-mini Tickers
Chart of E-minis/Specifications
The exchanges provide a list of specifications for each futures contract. The contract specifications for the five primary e-mini stock index futures contracts are shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Contract specifications for e-mini products


Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Who Trades The E-Minis?

  1. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Introduction
  2. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: What Are The E-Minis?
  3. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: E-Mini Characteristics
  4. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: E-Mini Specifications
  5. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Who Trades The E-Minis?
  6. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Trading The E-Minis
  7. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Other E-Mini Contracts
RELATED TERMS
  1. E-Mini

    An electronically traded futures contract on the Chicago Mercantile ...
  2. Contract Unit

    The actual amount of the underlying asset represented by a single ...
  3. Contract Size

    The deliverable quantity of commodities or financial instruments ...
  4. Tick Size

    The minimum price movement of a trading instrument. The price ...
  5. Front Month

    Used in futures trading to refer to the contract month with an ...
  6. Contract Month

    The month in which a futures contract expires. The contract can ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How do S&P 500 futures work?

    Learn about the mechanics of S&P 500 futures contracts, a type of stock index future introduced by the Chicago Mercantile ... Read Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between forward and futures contracts?

    Fundamentally, forward and futures contracts have the same function: both types of contracts allow people to buy or sell ... Read Answer >>
  3. How do the investment risks differ between options and futures?

    Learn what differences exist between futures and options contracts and how each can be used to hedge against investment risk ... Read Answer >>
  4. How do futures contracts roll over?

    Learn about why futures contracts are often rolled over into forward month contracts prior to expiration, and understand ... Read Answer >>
  5. How can a futures trader exit a position prior to expiration?

    A futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a commodity at a pre-determined price and quantity at a future date in ... Read Answer >>
  6. What do the S&P, Dow and Nasdaq futures contracts represent?

    Every morning before North American stock exchanges begin trading, TV programs and websites providing financial information ... Read Answer >>

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