Understanding Futures Tickers: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re interested in trading in futures, then you’ll need to stay updated with the market’s performance. One tool that can help you stay on top of things is a futures ticker. A futures ticker is simply a code used to represent the current status of a particular futures contract. Understanding futures tickers can give you an insight into market conditions and trading opportunities.

What is a Futures Ticker?

A futures ticker, also known as a futures symbol, is a shorthand representation of the name of a futures contract. It usually consists of a few letters followed by a number or month and year indicating the expiration date of the contract. For instance, the futures ticker for Brent crude oil is \”BZ,\” while the ticker for gold is \”GC.\”

Each futures exchange has its own unique set of tickers. However, some commonly used futures tickers include:

  • CL – Crude Oil
  • NG – Natural Gas
  • GC – Gold
  • SI – Silver
  • NQ – E-mini Nasdaq 100
  • ES – E-mini S&P 500

It’s worth noting that some futures contracts may have more than one ticker. For example, the crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) has two tickers; CL and QM.

How to Read a Futures Ticker

Reading a futures ticker is straightforward. It’s simply a matter of understanding what each letter and number represents. Most futures tickers have the following components:

  • Root symbol – The first two or three letters of the futures contract name. For example, ‘SI’ is the root symbol for the silver contract.
  • Month code – A letter code indicating the month of delivery. For instance, ‘F’ stands for January, ‘G’ for February, and so on.
  • Year code – The last digit of the year of delivery. For example, ‘1’ for 2021, ‘2’ for 2022, etc.

For example, the futures ticker for crude oil in February 2021 would be \”CLG21.\” The \”CL\” represents crude oil, \”G\” stands for February, and \”21\” indicates the year of delivery.

Why are Futures Tickers Important?

Futures tickers are essential for trading futures contracts. They make it easy for traders to identify which contract they are buying or selling. Furthermore, they help traders stay updated on the performance of a particular contract, indicating whether the market is bullish or bearish.

Moreover, futures tickers can give traders an insight into the underlying asset they are trading. For instance, the gold futures ticker \”GC\” represents a contract whose underlying asset is 100 ounces of gold. Understanding this can help traders determine their trading volume, margins, and contract specifications.


Futures tickers are essential for anyone trading futures contracts. They provide a shorthand code that helps traders identify which contract they are trading and stay updated on the market’s performance. Understanding futures tickers is crucial for any trader’s success in the futures market.