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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
  • Contract shows the month and year of the feeder cattle futures contract for which the price quote is given. For instance, Jan-11 refers to the futures contract due to expire in January 2011.
  • Open represents the opening futures price for the day.
  • High represents the high bid for the day so far.
  • Low represents the low bid for the day so far.
  • Last represents the most recent bid of the day. For example, at 11:42 a.m. the last value would be the most recent bid and the high and low would represent the high and low bids of the day up until 11:42 a.m.
  • Volume represents the number of short or long contracts traded up until that time of the day. That is, a volume of 287 indicates 287 short positions and 287 long positions have been taken, sellers equal buyers.
  • Settle represents the final bid price (also called the settle or close price) for the most recently concluded trading day.

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
  • Strike represents the price for which the call or put option contract can be transferred into a futures market position.
  • Open represents the opening options price for the day. For instance, the $3.61 per hundredweight open price for a 125000 call is the price that was bid at the beginning of the day for a $125 per hundredweight Chicago Mercantile Exchange Feeder Cattle Call option.
  • High represents the high premium bid for the day.
  • Low represents the low premium bid for the day.
  • Last represents the most recent premium bid of the day. For example, at 11:42 a.m. the last value would be the most recent bid and the high and low would represent the high and low of the day up until 11:42 a.m.
  • Change represents the change in bid value from the previous day close.
  • Volume represents the number of put or call contracts traded up until that time of the day.
Original authors
Joe Parcell and Vern Pierce, formerly of the Department of Agricultural Economics

 


G605 Interpreting Commodity Futures and Options Price Quotes | University of Missouri Extension