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Trading E-mini Futures for a Living

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Update – this post was written before the launch of CME’s newest product – the Micro E-Mini.

The collection of E-mini futures products offered by the CME Group are popular among retail and institutional traders alike. Whether you’re interested in engaging the markets of metals, energies, or equities, the E-minis offer a diverse array of options. Limited margins, optimal liquidity, and consistent volatility are attractive characteristics to anyone in search of speculative opportunities.

Nonetheless, the question remains: Is trading E-mini futures for a living possible? As with most things market-related, the answer depends greatly upon whom you talk to. However, given the appropriate mindset, strategy, and guidance, the E-minis provide many opportunities for dedicated individuals to sustain a living.

Aligning Resources to Goals

Before opening a brokerage account and placing a trade, a trader must align the available resources with an ultimate goal. Two vital questions need to be addressed during this process:

  • How much money do I want — or need — to make?
  • What are my capital and time resources?

The first issue that you must resolve when deciding whether trading E-mini futures for a living is feasible is to quantify exactly what constitutes a living. It’s critical to be absolutely honest when establishing what you want and expect out of the market. $200,000 per year? $50 per hour? Enough to pay the bills?

Any trades are educational examples only. They do not include commissions and fees.

After you’ve clearly defined what an acceptable living is for you, the next step is to complete an inventory of your available resources. Again, it’s essential to be rational when allocating money and time to any trading venture. You must reasonably equate the inputs at your disposal to your final goal. For example, if you have only two hours per day to trade and $5,000 in risk capital, then making $250,000 per year is going to be a tough proposition.

You must reasonably equate inputs to the final goal. If you have only two hours per day to trade and $5,000 in risk capital, then making $250,000 per year is going to be a tough proposition.

It’s a sobering point, but the resources must be capable of producing the final objective. If not, modifying your resource-goal relationship will be mandatory to ensure the best possible chance at success.

Selecting a Product

The beauty of E-mini futures is the wide variety of trading options, strategies, and products available. From short-term intraday scalping to swing trading and longer-term investment plans, E-mini futures offer participants an opportunity to execute their preferred methodology in the marketplace.

Here are the premier E-mini markets offered on the CME:

Product Symbol Asset Class
E-mini S&P 500 ES Equities Index
E-mini NASDAQ 100 NQ Equities Index
E-mini DOW YM Equities Index
E-mini Russell 2000 RT Equities Index
E-mini Crude Oil QM Energies
E-mini Euro FX E7 Currencies

By far, the most popular E-minis targeted by traders are those based on the equities indices. Consistent liquidity and volatility make them appropriate venues for individuals interested in trading E-mini futures for a living.

Any trades are educational examples only. They do not include commissions and fees.

Based upon your available resources and trading style, you can easily identify an ideal E-mini product. If you’re well-versed in blue-chip stocks, then the E-mini DOW may be a great fit. If you’re experienced in forex trading, then the E-mini Euro FX is a likely candidate. In either case, the reduced margin requirements and limited commissions offered by many brokers for the E-minis opens the door to a wide range of possibilities.

A Great Place to Begin Your Journey

Achieving longevity in the contemporary marketplace is an epic journey with no guarantees or safety nets. Make no mistake, the futures markets — including the E-minis — can be unforgiving.

Aligning your resources and goals with a viable approach to the markets can be a challenge. A great place to start is a free consultation with the team at StoneX. With more than two-decades in the futures industry, the market professionals at StoneX can offer guidance and insights to help make your goal of trading E-mini futures for a living a reality.

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