DEFINITION of 'Delivery Month'

A key characteristic of a futures contract that designates when the contract expires and when the underlying asset must be delivered. The exchange on the futures contract is traded will also establish a delivery location and a date within the delivery month when the delivery can take place. Not all futures contracts require physical delivery of a commodity, and many are settled in cash.

Also referred to as "contract month."

BREAKING DOWN 'Delivery Month'

On the ticker, delivery month is indicated by a letter.

January: F
February: G
March: H
April: J
May: K
June: M
July: N
August: Q
September: U
October: V
November: X
December: Z

Some commodities can be delivered in any month. Others are only delivered in certain months. For example, cocoa can only have a delivery month of March, May, July, September or December, while copper can be delivered year round. The complete ticker symbol for a futures contract will describe the commodity, the delivery month and the year. "CCZ11," for instance, indicates a cocoa contract for delivery in December 2011.

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