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Difference Between Forward and Futures Contract

By News Canvass | Nov 14, 2022

A private deal between a buyer and a seller to exchange an asset later for a predetermined price is known as a forward contract. They don’t trade on an exchange as a result. Forward contracts’ terms and conditions, which include the quantity of the underlying asset that will be supplied and the specifics of what will be provided, among other things, are more flexible due to the structure of the contract. The expiration of the contract serves as the only settlement date for forwards.

Forward contracts are frequently used by hedgers to reduce an asset’s price volatility. A forward contract does not experience price swings because the terms are predetermined at the time of execution.

Futures contracts also entail a commitment to acquire and sell an item at a predetermined price later. However, there are some distinctions between the forward contract and the futures contract. Since these contracts are marked-to-market (MTM) daily, daily changes are settled one day at a time until the contract’s expiration. Due to the futures market’s high level of liquidity, investors can enter and exit at any time.

These contracts are widely utilized by speculators who wager on which way the price of an asset will move. They are typically closed out before maturity, and delivery almost never occurs.

Clearing houses exist there, ensuring the transactions. As a result, there is essentially no chance of default.

The way that forwards contracts are governed distinguishes them from futures contracts. While futures are governed by a single government agency, forward contracts are completely unregulated. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is the organization in charge of monitoring and regulating futures contracts (CFTC). The CFTC was created in 1974 to oversee the derivatives market, guarantee that markets function effectively, and safeguard investors’ interests by thwarting fraud and manipulation.

Different parties also issue guarantees for each deal. Forwards offer the assurance that the contract will be settled because they are privately negotiated. Contrarily, the clearinghouses that support futures give an institutional guarantee. Futures demand a deposit or margin in contrast to forwards, where there is no guarantee until the transaction settles. This serves as collateral to protect against default risk.

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