Forex Trading

Contango Meaning, Why It Happens, and Backwardation

This can be profitable if the price of the commodity is trending higher. Contango refers to when a commodity futures​​ price is above the spot price. For example, let’s say that the spot price of Brent Crude Oil​​ today is $70 per barrel. If you buy a futures contract that expires in two months, if the holder of that contract receives their oil and has to pay $75, this means that the market is in contango. This is because the cost of the forward contract is higher than the spot price or the expected future price. A contango market occurs when prompt crude oil prices fall below those further out in the future.


This means that, every month, the volatility fund will lose something like 5-10% of its assets simply from having to roll its futures contracts over. This largely explains the very poor long-term performance of volatility products such as the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN . In all futures market scenarios, the futures prices will usually converge toward the spot prices as the contracts approach expiration. That happens because of the large number of buyers and sellers in the market, which makes markets efficient and eliminates large opportunities for arbitrage. As such, a market in contango will see gradual decreases in the price to meet the spot price at expiration.


At the same time, the liquid nature of most futures markets makes it a viable environment for producers to offset risk and ultimately transact physical delivery. Contango is considered normal for a non-perishable commodity, like crude oil and products, which have a cost of carry. Demand for oil suddenly dried up as folks stopped driving to work, flying on airplanes, or otherwise using petroleum products. However, it takes a long time to shut in oil production, meaning that supply was relatively fixed whereas demand was non-existent.


The company recently formed a new partnership with a subsidiary of Kinross Gold Corporation – The Peak Gold, LLC (Kinross 70% and Contango 30% with Kinross as Manager and Operator). Ore from the Peak Gold, LLC will be processed at Kinross’ existing Fort Knox mining and milling complex. Review of the difference uses of the words contango, backwardation, contango theory and theory of normal backwardation. This fee was similar in character to the present meaning of contango, i.e., future delivery costing more than immediate delivery, and the charge representing cost of carry to the holder.

Non-Core Assets

That’s where a financial advisor can offer extremely valuable advice. SmartAsset’s matching tool can connect you with several financial advisors in your area within minutes. Yesterday was Settling Day in Consols, and Monday next the Settling of Omnium. Owing to the great scarcity of money, the Contango on both is extremely great, nearly equal to 15 per cent.

  • For less than the cost of a full-time employee, you’ll experience a level of of service and support that’s unrivaled in our industry.
  • They all have an expiration date, and an ETF must “roll” from one contract to the next before expiration.
  • The end to America’s nationwide labor shortage is not in sight, but some economists suggest that having a more diversely-abled workforce in today’s hybrid work culture could help solve it.
  • These concepts are extremely important when it comes to investing in exchange-traded funds that use futures for their commodity exposure.

Additionally, it doesn’t pay to buy barrels now and stick them in storage until later. In fact, if you have oil in storage, you are incentivized to pull it out. The prices of this series of contracts, plotted over time, is what creates what is called the price curve.

ETFs are subject to market fluctuation and the risks of their underlying investments. Jade LizardA jade lizard is a slightly bullish strategy that combines a short put and a short call spread. Now, at this point, you may be wondering why your next-door neighbor invests in corn or crude oil, and yet you haven’t seen their backyard crammed with stalks of corn or flooded in petroleum. Backwardation gets right to the very heart of imminent supply and demand. When investing in derivatives, which includes futures, it’s important to fully understand the downsides as well as the upsides.

Fortunately, the loss caused by contango is limited to commodity ETFs that use futures contracts, such as oil ETFs. Gold ETFs and other ETFs that hold actual commodities for investors do not suffer from what is lexatrade contango. Contango usually occurs when an asset price is expected to rise over time. However, forward prices may fall below current market prices either on a short-term basis or for a sustained period.

Word History

The end to America’s nationwide labor shortage is not in sight, but some economists suggest that having a more diversely-abled workforce in today’s hybrid work culture could help solve it. Normally new buyers would go after the March meet the frugalwoods silver contract, especially with such a small contango. EKT Interactive specializes in training programs for the energy industry. We combine industry expertise with curriculum design to ensure fast, efficient and effective learning.

You can invest in commodities through futures contracts, options and exchange-traded funds . When trading in commodity futures, you agree to buy or sell the asset at a predetermined price at a specific time in the future. Contango is the industry term for when the futures price of a commodity is higher than the current price. When contango occurs, investors must pay more attention to their futures contracts within their portfolios. This can lock in losses when futures contracts expire at higher prices than the spot prices. These rolling forward contracts are typically limited to commodity ETFs, such as oil ETFs, which do not hold physical commodities.

U.S. stocks surged Tuesday after core inflation data came in lower than expected. That’s why it is always crucial to maintain a diversified portfolio. By keeping a balance between risky but profitable assets and lower-risk, lower-yield ones, you can ensure you never lose too much. In combination with a financial advisor, an asset allocation calculator can help you find the right balance for your portfolio.

That incurs a cost of carry in the form of a higher-than-spot price. “Often, the price investors pay for the roll exceeds the absolute return of the underlying, causing the investment to earn negative yield even in a rising price environment,” Triggs added. In such cases, the fund tends to lose value over time, as evidenced by the futures ETF tied to Chicago Board Options Exchange’s volatility index . When crude oil prices decline, there tends to be news stories covering interest in storage plays and demand for storage, both on land and using waterborne cargo vessels. This is driven by a Contango market pricing structure where prompt crude oil prices are below those in the future. There are futures contracts expiring every month going out years into the future.


The spot and futures price actually converge as expiration approaches due to arbitrage, and contango diminishes. Overall, futures markets involve a substantial amount of speculation. When contracts are further away from expiration, they are more speculative. There are a few reasons for an investor to lock in a higher futures price. As mentioned, the cost of carry is one common reason for buying commodities futures. ETPs that track a single sector or commodity may exhibit even greater volatility.

Contango futures

There are futures contracts for each month going out many years. These prices reflect the market’s current as well financial reporting valuation as future expectations of oil prices. Contango can have a major impact on commodity and volatility funds.

A month later, it is 3.02, then 3.25, 3.37, but then a month later the price drops to 3.29, which is cheaper than the prior month. These later contracts are potentially heading into backwardation, as the price is decreasing consistently. Over time, as that contract nears expiration, it will move closer to the spot price. Therefore, unless the price rises above the price paid, the value of the contango contract will drop to meet the spot price at expiry.

The amount by which prices for future delivery are higher than prices for near delivery. The term originated in early-19th-century England, and is believed to be a corruption of continuation, continue or contingent. In the past on the London Stock Exchange, contango was a fee paid by a buyer to a seller when the buyer wished to defer settlement of the trade they had agreed. The charge was based on the interest forgone by the seller not being paid. Get ahead in the energy industry with our training solutions and support services.

If the spot price stays the same, the contract that was bought for $75 will be worth $70 when the contract expires. A steep enough curve, which covers the cost of carry, encourages oil traders and storage holders to buy crude oil at current prices and store it for sale at higher prices in the future. Contango and backwardation are vital concepts for anyone wishing to trade commodity futures directly, or invest in exchange-traded funds based on these underlying commodity futures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *