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: Popular E-mini Contracts
  6. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Who Trades The E-Minis?
  7. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Trading The E-Minis
  8. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Other E-Mini Contracts
  9. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Volume and Volatility
  10. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Margins
  11. Beginner's Guide to E-Mini Futures Contracts: Rollover Dates and Expiration
  12. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Brokers
  13. Beginner's Guide To E-Mini Futures Contracts: Tax Advantages

Each e-mini contract has specifications that are outlined by the exchange.

Ticker Symbol

Like stocks, each e-mini contract has a ticker symbol, or an arrangement of letters that represent the specific contract. These symbols are used by traders to create price charts and to execute trades in the market. Typically, e-mini traders refer to the contract by its ticker symbol rather than its full name. You might say, for example, "I’m long the ES" instead of "I’m long the e-mini S&P 500." 

Exchange

The exchange is the marketplace where the contract is traded. The function of the exchanges is to ensure fair and orderly trading, and to provide efficient dissemination of price information. While the CME has a physical location where certain contracts are still traded on the floor, all the e-mini stock index futures contracts are electronically traded on the CME Globex platform.

Contract Size

The contract size is the value of the contract based on the price of the futures contract times a contract-specific multiplier. The e-mini S&P 500, for example, has a contract size of $50 times the S&P 500 Index. If the S&P 500 is trading at 2,580, the value of the contract would be $129,000 ($50 x 2,580).

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 0.25 index points, 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 NQ has a tick size of 0.25 index points, where each tick represents $5.00. One point would be equal to four ticks, or a value of $20. Note that the exchanges may change tick sizes to make a contract more attractive; the RTY, for example, used to be worth $10 per tick but now trades at $5 per tick.

Contract Months

A contract month is the month in which a futures contract expires. All the e-mini stock index futures contracts trade on what’s called the March quarterly expiration cycle (March, June, September and December). Each contract month is represented by a single letter: 

 

Month

Code

 

Month

Code

January

F

July

N

February

G

August

Q

March

H

September

U

April

J

October

V

May

K

November

X

June

M

December

Z

 

To avoid confusion, a contract name always includes the ticker symbol, followed by the contract month and two-digit year.  The complete contract name for the December 2017 ES contract, for example, would be “ESZ17”:

 

Ticker Symbol

Contract Month

Year

ES

Z

2017

ESZ17

 

The exchanges provide a list of specifications for each futures contract. The contract specifications for the top four e-mini stock index futures contracts are shown here:

 

Futures Contract

Ticker Symbol

Contract Size

Tick Size

Contract Months

E-mini S&P 500

ES

$50 X Index

0.25 = $12.50

H, M, U, Z

E-mini Nasdaq 100

NQ

$20 X Index

0.25 = $5.00

H, M, U, Z

E-mini Dow

YM

$5 X Index

1.00 = $5.00

H, M, U, Z

E-mini Russell 2000

RTY

$50 X Index

0.10 = $5.00

H, M, U, Z

 

Beginner's Guide to E-mini Futures Contracts: Popular E-mini Contracts
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