Each e-mini contract has certain specifications as outlined by its host exchange.
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."
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.
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).
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.
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
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?
TradingThe e-minis are the small but mighty cousins of their larger, full-sized contracts. Learn how to trade with the e-mini stock index futures.