Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Rollover Dates And Expiration
AAA
  1. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Introduction
  2. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Popular E-Mini Contracts
  3. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Volume And Volatility
  4. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Margin
  5. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Rollover Dates And Expiration
  6. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - E-Mini Brokers
  7. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Tax Advantages

Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Rollover Dates And Expiration

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:

  • H = March
  • M = June
  • U = September
  • Z = December
Each contract is known by its ticker symbol, the contract month and the year in which the contract is traded. The complete name for the March 2012 TF contract, for example, would be "TFH12" (see Figure 4).


Figure 4 - Each futures contract is known by its ticker symbol, contract month and year in which the contract is traded.


E-mini contracts are similar to other futures contracts in that they have a defined length and specified expiration. The e-mini stock index futures expires at the same time and to the same price as their larger counterpart contracts (for example, the e-mini S&P 500 contract expires at the same time as the standard, full-sized S&P 500 contract). The expiration date (or final trading day) is the last day that a futures contract is valid. Since futures contracts have delivery months (or contract months, such as H, M, U and Z), the expiration is the time and the day that the particular contract stops trading. The final settlement price for the contract is also determined. Expiration for the e-minis stock index futures contracts (including ES, NQ, YM and TF) occurs at 9:30 am EST on the third Friday of the delivery months, such as the third Friday in March for a March contract, or the third Friday in December for a December contract.

When a contract expires, it does not expire worthless (like an options contract would). Instead, an open position rolls over to the new contract.

Rollover
Contract Rollover occurs on the Thursday a week before the expiration Friday - for the e-minis, this is the second Thursday of March, June, September and December (if the Rollover month starts on a Friday, the Rollover is the first Thursday of the month). The next contract becomes the "lead contract" or the "front month". Even though the previous contract continues to trade until expiration, the majority of trading moves to the next contract. For example, if the TFU12 contract expires on September 21, the rollover date would be the previous Thursday, or September 13, in this case. The majority of trading would switch to the December contract (TFZ12) as of market open (9:30 am EST) on the rollover date.

Figure 5 illustrates the increase in volume that switches to the next contract as of the Rollover date. In the example, the June and September ES contracts are shown. The Rollover (June 7) date is indicated by the yellow arrows, along with the June contract's expiration. Notice the increase in volume for the September contract that coincides with the Rollover date. Trading for the June contract ceases as of the expiration.

Figure 5 - These daily charts show the June and September 2012 ES contracts. The Rollover (June 7) dates are indicated by the yellow arrows, along with the June contract\'s expiration. Notice the increase in volume for the September contract that coincides with the Rollover date. Chart created with TradeStation.


Trading the Contract Rollover
Many active traders will trade the "old" contract on Rollover day, and then switch to the "new" contract on the next day, or make the switch on the actual Rollover day. Figure 5 shows that after Rollover, the volume of the current contract (June) wanes, while the volume of the upcoming contract (September) increases. In general, traders should move into the new contract as volume moves from one to the other. Some traders avoid Rollover day altogether because it is considered by many to be choppy and challenging to trade. It is important to do your own homework and research to determine if your trading strategy is affected by Rollover trading.

Continuous Contracts
The continuous contract is a combination of the various delivery months of a contract. It allows traders and investors to view the historical price movement (and historical technical analysis) over multiple contracts. The continuous contract is vital to strategy development and backtesting, since it accounts for years of trading data. Often, the symbol for the continuous contract is the contract's ticker symbol, preceded by the "@" symbol. The continuous NQ contract, for example, would be designated "@NQ."

Figure 6 shows a weekly chart of the continuous NQ contract. Notice that the chart appears as seamless as that of a regular stock chart. Typically, the continuous contract is used for analysis purposes only and not for actual trading.

SEE: Backtesting: Interpreting The Past

Figure 6 - The continuous NQ contract, shown on a weekly chart.
Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - E-Mini Brokers

  1. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Introduction
  2. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Popular E-Mini Contracts
  3. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Volume And Volatility
  4. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Margin
  5. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Rollover Dates And Expiration
  6. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - E-Mini Brokers
  7. Intermediate Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts - Tax Advantages
RELATED TERMS
  1. Implied Volatility - IV

    The estimated volatility of a security's price.
  2. Plain Vanilla

    The most basic or standard version of a financial instrument, ...
  3. Derivative

    A security with a price that is dependent upon or derived from ...
  4. Inverse Transaction

    A transaction that can cancel out a forward contract that has ...
  5. Best To Deliver

    The security that is delivered by the short position holder in ...
  6. Exchange Traded Derivative

    A financial instrument whose value is based on the value of another ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How do futures contracts roll over?

    Traders roll over futures contracts to switch from the front month contract that is close to expiration to another contract ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Why do companies enter into futures contracts?

    Different types of companies may enter into futures contracts for different purposes. The most common reason is to hedge ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What does a futures contract cost?

    The value of a futures contract is derived from the cash value of the underlying asset. While a futures contract may have ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are the main risks associated with trading derivatives?

    The primary risks associated with trading derivatives are market, counterparty, liquidity and interconnection risks. Derivatives ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can an investor profit from a fall in the utilities sector?

    The utilities sector exhibits a high degree of stability compared to the broader market. This makes it best-suited for buy-and-hold ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How are commodity spot prices different than futures prices?

    Commodity spot prices and futures prices are different quotes for different types of contracts. The spot price is the current ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!