University of Missouri Extension

G605, Revised August 2011

Interpreting Commodity Futures and Options Price Quotes

Joe Parcell
Professor
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
Jason Franken
Former Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Producers who are not familiar with futures and options price quotes may find the initial process of interpretation time-consuming and frustrating. This guide explains how to interpret commodity price quotes for futures and options, using an example of each. The examples are for cattle, but the interpretation process also applies to grains, oilseeds, cotton, rice and hogs.

Futures price quote

Table 1 shows a typical futures price quote page for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Feeder Cattle Futures Contract.

Table 1. Chicago Mercantile Exchange Feeder Cattle Futures price quotes for Jan. 6, 2011, 11:42 a.m.

Contract Open High Low Last Volume Settle
Jan-11 124.275 124.750 123.550 124.425 287 124.025
Mar-11 126.325 126.950 125.375 126.550 1,687 126.050
Apr-11 127.050 127.500 126.100 127.050 362 126.875
May-11 127.150 127.725 126.250 127.300 343 127.275
Aug-11 127.725 128.500 126.950 128.000 285 127.875
Sep-11 127.000 127.900 126.700 127.750 38 127.550
Oct-11 126.850 127.425 126.525 127.425 25 127.100
Nov-11 126.850 127.400 126.500 127.100 38 127.000

News services sometimes report weekly averages for the low and high bids and the close price. You cannot determine what day the low or high occurred through weekly quotes.

Options price quote

Table 2 shows a typical options price quote page for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Feeder Cattle Futures Contract.

Table 2. Chicago Mercantile Exchange Feeder Cattle Options price quotes for Jan. 6, 2011, 11:42 a.m.

Strike Open High Low Last Change Volume
March 2011 Call
124000         UNCH 0
125000 3.610 4.150 3.550 4.150 +0.325 25
126000 3.425 3.525 3.250 3.525 +0.375 20
127000         UNCH 0
128000 2.210 2.500 2.075 2.475 +0.075 99
March 2011 Put
124000         UNCH 0
125000 2.780 2.875 2.575 2.575 -0.200 5
126000 3.310 3.325 2.950 2.850 -0.250 4
127000 3.825 3.825 3.375 3.375 -0.300 10
128000         UNCH 0
Original authors
Joe Parcell and Vern Pierce, formerly of the Department of Agricultural Economics

 

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