How have crude oil, gold, corn, and sugar performed over the last couple of years? The charts above compare the prices for different commodities relative to each other.
Commodities are predominantly traded as futures contracts. There are a handful of exchanges that cover most of trading volume. They include the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the COMEX, the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), and the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). All these exchanges but the first one are owned by the CME Group.
A commodity futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a predetermined amount of a commodity at a specific price on a specific date in the future. Future contracts are either cash-settled or physically delivered upon the expiry date of the contract. When a contract is cash-settled, the net cash position of the contract on the expiry date is transferred between the buyer and the seller. In physical delivery, the seller is required to provide the asset at the defined time and place - and the buyer must receive it. However, in order to avoid settlement, most futures contracts are actually offset or rolled-over prior to expiration. When the forward curve is in contango, rolling-over can induce signifant cost. For this reason, in order to get exposure to commodities, long-term investors often choose to invest in equities rather then futures contracts.
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