The e-mini stock index futures contracts are among the most popular of the dozens of e-mini products. These contracts are appealing because of their affordability, leverage, liquidity, profit potential and round-the-clock trading. These contracts are typically referred to by their ticker symbols. For example, when discussing the e-mini Russell 2000 futures contract, traders will often simply refer to the contract as "the TF."

E-mini S&P 500 (ES)
The e-mini S&P 500 futures (ES) are the most actively traded stock index futures contract in the world. Introduced by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) on Sept. 9, 1997, the ES is traded solely electronically on the CME Globex platform. The ES is one-fifth the size of the standard S&P 500 futures contract. The underlying index is the S&P 500 Index - the world's most widely followed gauge of stock market performance. It is a capitalization-weighted and float-adjusted index of 500 large-cap stocks traded on the NYSE, ASE and the Nasdaq National Market System. The Index represents the market value of the total outstanding common shares of the 500 listed companies. Figure 1 shows a monthly chart of the ES with volume; note how the volume has increased greatly since it was first introduced in 1997.

Figure 1 - This monthly chart of the e-mini S&P 500 futures contract shows how volume has increased since it was first offered in 1997. Chart created with TradeStation.

E-mini NASDAQ-100 (NQ)
The e-mini NASDAQ-100 futures (NQ) are also traded on the CME Globex electronic platform. Launched on June 21, 1999, the NQ is one-fifth the size of the standard NASDAQ-100 futures contract. Its underlying index - the NASDAQ-100 Index - represents the largest (based on market capitalization) non-financial U.S. and international issues listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The Index's holdings represent a variety of companies in major industry groups including biotechnology, computer hardware and software, retail/wholesale trade and telecommunications.

E-mini Dow (YM)
The e-mini Dow ($5) (YM) is another popular contract that trades solely electronically on the CME Globex platform. Launched on April 5, 2002, the YM is one-fifth the size of the standard Dow futures contract. The YM is based on the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), a price-weighted index of 30 blue-chip U.S. companies. Nine economic sectors are represented in the Index, including consumer goods, entertainments, financial services, retail and technology. The YM is especially attractive to beginner traders, since each tick represents a conservative five dollar price change.

E-mini Russell 2000 (TF)
The e-mini Russell 2000 (TF) is traded on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) electronic trading platform. The TF is based on the Russell 2000 Index, a subset of the Russell 3000 Index, is a performance benchmark for the small-cap and mid-cap segment of the U.S. equities markets. The Index includes 2000 of the smallest securities, based on market capitalization. The Russell 2000 Index represents a variety of sectors including, consumer discretionary, financial services, healthcare, producer durables and technology.


Next: Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Volume And Volatility »

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