Organized market for the purchase and sale of enforceable contracts to deliver a commodity (such as wheat, gold, or cotton) or a financial instrument (such as U.S. treasury bills) at some future date. Such contracts are known as futures and are bought and sold in a competitive auction process on commodity exchanges (also called futures markets). The largest futures and futures-options exchange is the Chicago Board of Trade.
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Commercial contracts calling for the purchase or sale of specified quantities of a good at specified future dates. The good in question may be grain, livestock, precious metals, or financial instruments such as treasury bills. Up until the time the contract calls for the delivery of the good, the contract is subject to speculation. Futures contracts originated in the trade in agricultural commodities; for example, American grain farmers were able to sell their harvest in advance on the Chicago Board of Trade, a commodity exchange.
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