Futures trading is a speculative investment in commodities and financial instruments that can yield benefits from the very short-term to long-term investments. An algorithmic trading system is an automated trading method that makes use of advanced algorithms to identify and take advantage of market opportunities for the trader. In speed, accuracy and flexibility, algorithmic trading systems can excel over traditional trading methods, giving futures traders a real edge.
To get started with algorithmic futures trading, it is important that the trader has a good grasp of the markets they are trading in, as well as programming and scripting languages. Additionally, traders need to be familiar with the trading platform they will be using and its APIs. Once these foundations are in place, traders can turn to algorithmic strategies such as arbitrage, trend following, mean reversion, pair trading and fundamental analysis to gain an edge.
Arbitrage is an algorithmic strategy that takes advantage of pricing discrepancies between different markets. Arbitrage traders identify trading opportunities where a security or commodity is being offered at different prices from different markets and buy from the market offering the lower price and sell to the market offering the higher price. By executing orders across different markets, arbitrage traders can benefit from the price differences without having to take risks.
Trend following is another algorithmic futures trading strategy that involves attempting to capture price momentum. Traders will buy and sell price movements of different financial instruments to take advantage of their trend direction. This strategy can be effective for traders looking to profit from short-term or day-trades as well as long-term investments.
Mean reversion is the opposite of trend following, this algorithmic trading strategy is used to exploit price movements that lie away from the mean (average) point of the market. Mean reversion traders look to buy securities that are undervalued and sell overvalued assets. By timing trades effectively, traders can benefit from taking short-term positions over movements that move away from the mean.
Pair trading applies the same buy low and sell high principle as mean reversion, but with a twist. Pair traders take advantage of divergent price movements between two related securities in order to generate trading profits. By taking simultaneous long and short positions in two related securities, traders can identify and take advantage of price movements between them.
Finally, there is fundamental analysis, which uses an algorithmic approach to determine a security’s intrinsic value. Fundamental analysis traders will use economic, social, political and financial data and models to identify entry and exit points on securities. This strategy is longer-term oriented and looks to exploit gradual or sudden changes in a securities value.
Algorithmic futures trading offers many advantages over traditional trading methods, allowing traders to execute faster, more accurately and with more flexibility. While algorithmic futures trading can take some getting used to, novice traders can use strategies such as arbitrage, trend following, mean reversion, pair trading and fundamental analysis to gain an edge and improve overall performance.