Indian markets have recently thrown open a new avenue for retail investors and traders to participate: commodity derivatives.who want to diversify their portfolios beyond shares, bonds and real estate, commodities is the best option.
Historically, pricing in commodities futures has been less volatile compared with equity and bonds, thus providing an efficient portfolio diversification option.Commodities actually offer immense potential to become a separate asset class for market-savvy investors, arbitrageurs and speculators. Retail investors, who claim to understand the equity markets may find commodities an unfathomable market. But commodities are easy to understand as far as fundamentals of demand and supply are concerned. Retail investors should understand the risks and advantages of trading in commodities futures before taking a leap.
Like any other market, the one for commodity futures plays a valuable role in information pooling and risk sharing. The market mediates between buyers and sellers of commodities, and facilitates decisions related to storage and consumption of commodities. In the process, they make the underlying market more liquid.
You have three options - the National Commodity and Derivative Exchange, the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd and the National Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd. All three have electronic trading and settlement systems and a national presence.
You can have an amount as low as Rs 5,000. All you need is money for margins payable upfront to exchanges through brokers. The margins range from 5-10 per cent of the value of the commodity contract. While you can start off trading at Rs 5,000 with ISJ Commtrade other brokers have different packages for clients
The brokerage charges range from 0.10-0.25 per cent of the contract value. Transaction charges range between Rs 6 and Rs 10 per lakh/per contract. The brokerage will be different for different commodities. It will also differ based on trading transactions and delivery transactions. In case of a contract resulting in delivery, the brokerage can be 0.25 - 1 per cent of the contract value. The brokerage cannot exceed the maximum limit specified by the exchanges.
Till some months ago, this wouldn't have made sense. For retail investors could have done very little to actually invest in commodities such as gold and silver -- or oilseeds in the futures market. This was nearly impossible in commodities except for gold and silver as there was practically no retail avenue for punting in commodities.
However, with the setting up of three multi-commodity exchanges in the country, retail investors can now trade in commodity futures without having physical stocks!