Commodity definition of commodity by merriam-webster gas z factor

Grain, precious metals, electricity, oil, beef, orange juice, and natural gas are traditional examples of commodities, but foreign currencies, emissions credits, bandwidth, and certain financial instruments are also part of today’s commodity markets. According to the New York Mercantile Exchange, "A market will flourish for almost any commodity as long as there is an active pool of buyers and sellers."

Most buyers and sellers trade commodities on the futures markets because many commodity producers — particularly those of traditional commodities like grain — bear the risk of potentially negative price changes when their products are finally ready for the market. Futures contracts, whereby the buyer purchases the obligation to receive a specific quantity of the commodity at a specific date and at a specific price, therefore offer some price stability to commodity producers and commodity users.

Futures contracts are standardized, meaning that each commodity has the same specifications for the product’s quality, quantity, and delivery. This helps ensure that all prices mean the same thing to everyone in the market. Crude oil is an example of a traditional commodity that is frequently traded using futures contracts. Because each kind of crude oil (light sweet crude, for example) meets the same quality specifications, buyers know exactly what they’re getting, regardless of the source of the oil. However, sometimes producers attempt to brand their products in an effort to obtain higher prices.

As in any futures trading, there are those who hedge and those who speculate on commodities. Hedgers do not usually seek a profit; they trade primarily to protect against rising (or falling) prices to stabilize the costs (or revenues) of their business operations. A cereal manufacturer, for example, might wish to hedge against rising costs of certain grains, which could drive up raw materials costs, increase cost of goods sold, and crimp gross profit margins. Speculators, on the other hand, are strictly in pursuit of profits and are essentially placing bets on the future prices of certain commodities.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission ( CFTC) regulates commodities futures trading through its enforcement of the Commodity Exchange Act of 1974 and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. The CFTC works to ensure the competitiveness, efficiency, and integrity of the commodities futures markets and protects against manipulation, abusive trading, and fraud.

There are six major commodity exchanges in the U.S.: The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Options Exchange ( CBOE), the Kansas City Board of Trade, and the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. The New York Mercantile Exchange is the world’s largest physical commodity futures exchange. When the hours for open outcry and electronic trading are combined, some exchanges are open for nearly 22 hours a day.

Commodities exchanges do not set the prices of the traded commodities. Instead, supply and demand determine commodities prices. Exchange members, who act on behalf of their customers or for their own account, engage in open-outcry auctions in pits on the exchange floors. During an open-outcry auction, buyers and sellers announce their bids and offers. When two parties agree on a price, the trade is recorded both manually and electronically. The exchange then disseminates the price information to news services and other reporting agencies around the world.

Commodities exchanges guarantee each trade using clearing members who are responsible for managing the payments between buyer and seller. Clearing members — usually large banks and financial services companies — require traders to make good-faith deposits (called margins) in order to ensure they have sufficient funds to handle potential losses and will therefore not default on their trades. The risk borne by clearing members lends further support to the strict quality, quantity, and delivery specifications of commodities futures contracts.