So first of all let's discuss exactly what types of markets we can access and let's cover some of the common terminology. Many people refer to the entity being traded as a Security or an Asset, each f these entities can be traded in multiple different ways. For instance an asset like the S & P 500 (US Listings) allows us to trade on the movement of the US top 500 companies. They can be traded through techniques like a Futures contract or sometimes through spread betting platforms.
Each Asset or Security typically has a symbol or Ticker that identifies this entity to the markets.In futures trading the symbol for the S & P 500 might be the ES. It will also have an element appended to it that denotes a) The actual contract to be traded and the year it is being traded in. So the S & P 500 might have a full symbol like ESZ15 which would deny that this is an S & P 500 e mini contract for December 2015.
Typically these contracts expire 4 times through the year and each time the current contract expires a new one is created so that the contract can be traded in a continuous manner through the year.
Other assets like Commodities and Utilities can also be traded through Futures contracts. Where this is the case these assets would have a futures symbol like SIZ15 which is the futures contract for Silver December 2015 contract.
Different contracts obviously have different prices assigned to them for a given contract, this can get a little technical but website like CME can be extremely helpful in understanding the contract price for each of these assets.
Many people these days trade from an electronic platform typically on a Laptop PC, or mobile application on a mobile phone or tablet. What normally happens here is that you choose a company that allows you to trade the asset you are interested in.
This could be a futures contract, an options entity, or indeed a lot or pip (point) on spread betting platforms. Many companies only offer Futures and Options whilst others only offer spread betting.
Many traders use different platforms like a platform for Futures and Options and then a different platform / company for spread betting. A good example of this might be a trader that uses Infinity Futures for trading Futures / Options contracts and GKFX for spread betting.
They may choose to trade Futures Commodities in Infinity and Foreign Exchange currency pairs in GKFX.
In a future article I will cover in more detail what drives decisions to trade particular assets.