When you purchase or sell a stock futures, you are not really purchasing or selling a stock. Instead, you are entering into a stock futures contract, a binding agreement to purchase or sell the underlying stock certificate on a specific date at a predetermined price. Unlike a standard stock to buy, you are not entitled to dividends, but you are entitled to stockholders’ meetings and yearly stock reset. There are some pros and cons to both types of transactions. While you may think that you are getting the best deal when you buy a futures contract instead of a stock certificate, there are many other options out there for the same or greater results. One of the most obvious pros to trading futures is that you don’t have to own the underlying stock to place a trade. Many traders assume that they will have to either own the stock themselves before they can begin buying and selling, or they will have to find someone who does. This is simply not the case. Because there is no investment necessary, and because you don’t have to go through the hassle of purchasing shares in the actual company you are buying futures contracts from, it is much more affordable to take smaller trades. One of the most common reasons to use stock futures contracts is to protect your portfolio. If you are using a stock pick list to determine which companies to invest in, you need to make sure that they will actually go on to become profitable. If you have a small investment, you don’t want it invested in a company that has a terrible year ahead. You would want to spread your risk as much as possible, and using a stock futures contract allows you to do just that. Since the contract guarantees that the stock price will stay where it is in the short term, you won’t have to worry about your portfolio’s losing value if the market goes south. Another benefit to investing in these contracts is that you can buy them for as little as one cent per share. This is a very tiny amount of money, but since it is concentrated, it makes a huge difference. In the same way that you don’t spend money until something needs to be bought, with these contracts you don’t buy anything until the market rises enough to justify the price you are paying. Since the contracts are standardized, it is very easy to track the price of stock. If you want to make an accurate prediction of where the stock price will go next, all you have to do is add a little bit of information into the formula. This is much more accurate than any simple mathematical formula. Finally, this type of market is perfect for people who want to trade with large amounts of money. The idea is that they will buy the contracts at a low price and then sell them for more when the stock rises. Obviously, there are some strategies that will work better than others. If you have a lot of money to invest, it might not be wise to buy and sell contracts daily. Instead, you might prefer to sell different stock positions regularly, or use a combination of the two. Of course, there are some risks involved when you use futures contracts. The main risk is that prices can drop lower than the strike price before the contract ends. Another risk is that a company might not be able to deliver on their promises. However, if you follow the strategies outlined above, this shouldn’t be a major issue. Beyond these two risks, there is really no risk at all. In fact, the only risk that is posed by investing in futures is the potential risk of loss, since the prices never drop below the strike price. In order to control this risk, most investors prefer to put their money in options instead of stock. While options carry a higher risk, they also offer considerable flexibility: you can sell your options at a profit once the option expires or purchase more futures in order to ride the upward trend. Now that you know the pros and cons of stock futures, it’s time to decide whether or not it’s right for you. If you have enough money to put towards an investment and you have an understanding of financial markets, trading stocks might be right for you. Just remember, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Get expert advice before you dip into your own capital and don’t rely solely on your instincts.