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Does anyone trade index futures


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Posted (edited)

I'd recommend Interactive Brokers.  They're pretty much the best in terms of narrow spreads, good fills etc, and have very cheap commissions. Not quite as cheap as TastyWorks, my other broker, but close enough.

IB's platform can be overwhelming to start with, but you soon realise you only need a fraction of the features and you can arrange the layout how you like to hide the irrelevant stuff.  The TastyWorks platform is neat and easy, but more aimed at options traders than futures.

IB's reporting and analytics is far better, can report in any currency and generally deals with currency issues better. TastyWorks only reports in dollars, and the reports are very simplistic.  That's probably the biggest factor for a active UK based trader to consider if weighing up the two.

IB also has API access, so there are all kinds of third party trading platforms, charting packages etc, you can use to suit your style of trading if their own platform doesn't suit your needs.

I'm sure there's other decent brokers, but I've no experience of them. 

EDIT:  To add, it greatly depends what sort of trading you want to do.  It may be that CFDs are suitable if you're mostly trading off charts / TA.  Or it may be a proper futures platform like IB or TastyWorks is better if you're putting on calendar spreads, hedging etc, or like to scalp based on Level II data and tick charts.

Edited by MvR
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2 minutes ago, MvR said:

I'd recommend Interactive Brokers.

I've just opened an account with them but not funded it yet - how do you fund USD denominated account without incurring silly conversion charges? I wanted to have an account in USD as the conversion charges and fx fluctuations  are eating my profits when trading US shares from HL or IG.

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, BearyBear said:

I've just opened an account with them but not funded it yet - how do you fund USD denominated account without incurring silly conversion charges? I wanted to have an account in USD as the conversion charges and fx fluctuations  are eating my profits when trading US shares from HL or IG.

In IB you're generally better off keeping the account denominated in the currency you do your taxes in.

Currency conversion costs really aren't an issue, because you can keep multiple currencies in the same account, regardless of the account's base currency.  When you do what to convert currency, you have direct access to actual currency markets, so spreads are the tiniest fraction of a penny, and commissions are negligible too.. around a dollar unless you're trading huuuge size.  Here's the spread on GBPUSD right now, less than 1/100th of a penny..

103055870_Screenshot2020-05-20at09_11_49.thumb.png.76a85a69eca3b1b4bbff5c43b831c924.png

They don't automatically buy or sell currency for you when you make a trade. If you account only has sterling in it, and you buy something in dollars, you just end up with a negative dollar balance, and you decide yourself if or when you want to convert some sterling ( or any other currency ) into dollars to settle that negative balance.  Usually you'll just leave it, and when you sell whatever you bought in dollars, that'll settle the negative balance.  

Ideally of course, you make profit, and have some dollars left over, which you convert if and when you like. I usually convert my dollar profits back into sterling once a month, depending on what I think the currencies will do.

In this account for example, I've got £15,105 in sterling,  $562 in dollars, a negative $179 options balance ( since I sell options aiming to buy them back cheaper later on ), and have accrued a $9 margin interest liability so far this month.

1454780745_Screenshot2020-05-20at09_12_18.thumb.png.776bb45f9ca0a276fcf72a9bdc395e2c.png

EDIT: In your case, if you can't re-denominate the account into sterling before you fund it ( that might not be possible ), I'd suggest closing it and re-opening a new one in sterling. 

There's nothing stopping you funding a dollar account with sterling - It'll just end up as a dollar account with some sterling in it,  but it's good to get the base currency right at the start to avoid accounting confusion later on.

Edited by MvR
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51 minutes ago, BearyBear said:

CMC Markets for spread betting that includes futures and IG MT4 for charting

yes I use these guys too.......I've lost a lot of money with them in the past and when IG upped the spread on DAX to 7 points during recently volatility I got a bit pee'd off with them xD

I've taught myself to read 'naked charts' (using MT4 too) it's just a question of confidence now till I get up to £10/point :P

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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, MvR said:

EDIT:  To add, it greatly depends what sort of trading you want to do.  It may be that CFDs are suitable if you're mostly trading off charts / TA.  Or it may be a proper futures platform like IB or TastyWorks is better if you're putting on calendar spreads, hedging etc, or like to scalp based on Level II data and tick charts

as I see it, the problem with trading 'cash markets' with the bucket shops like IG and CMC is that they vary the spreads at will.......and the bastards go after your stops too.....

the futures market is more 'transparent' or so I've been led to believe...

The spread you have on cable there with IB is absolutely stunning! ie very small

20 minutes ago, MvR said:

around a dollar unless you're trading huuuge size

what do you class as huuuge? I don't want to go greater than £10/pip.........if I can 'grab' 100 point swings on the DAX at that size, I'm minted :D And it's a few hours work a day ;)

Edited by 5min OCD speculator
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1 minute ago, BearyBear said:

Thanks MvR, that was much more informative than theirs support pages and chat! 

LOL..  Yes, they can be confusing to start with. Their customer service dept is very responsive, but they do assume a fairly high degree of knowledge / experience from the client.

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5 minutes ago, 5min OCD speculator said:

as I see it, the problem with trading 'cash markets' with the bucket shops like IG and CMC is that they vary the spreads at will.......and the bastards go after your stops too.....

I personally don't think they (IG or CMC) go after your stops. Large traders do as they are liquidity hungry.

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, BearyBear said:

I personally don't think they (IG or CMC) go after your stops. Large traders do as they are liquidity hungry.

I've seen it on MT4....they widen the spread and it takes your stop out......not noticeable if you trade 1hr time frame but try doing it on 1min :P

Edited by 5min OCD speculator
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24 minutes ago, 5min OCD speculator said:

re IB, are they just US based? Is your money covered? I remember what happened to worldspreads....

Another Q, what size trades can you go up to with £15k cash in the account?

No, they have a UK subsidiary so have the same protections as any other UK company. They're one of the biggest brokers in the world, definitely not some fly-by-night operation.

In terms of size, I usually trade options which are a different kettle of fish, but margin requirements are normally about 1/10th of the contract value.  The ability to trade large size is the wrong reason to get into futures though....

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check this out.....there was a head n shoulders shortly after XO, it dumped 100 points to a DB and has now rallied to 11142 which interestingly is a line I drew a number of weeks ago....markets 'remember' interesting levels :ph34r:

 

Screenshot_2020-05-20_12-27-21.png

4 minutes ago, MvR said:

The ability to trade large size is the wrong reason to get into futures though

why do you say that?

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44 minutes ago, 5min OCD speculator said:

why do you say that?

Because if you’re good enough to safely trade that kind of leverage With a small account, it would be much safer to trade smaller first to build up your capital for a few months, at which point you can trade the size you want with less leverage..  

The advantage of futures is the ability to trade spreads using multiple month’s contracts, which greatly reduces risk.  I’m away from my deal at the mo so typing on a phone and hard to expand more but I will do later on.. 

to be fair it does depend on trading style etc, whether you hold overnight, the kinds of profits you’re aiming to earn and so on, but it’s extremely easy to blow up your account. Margin rates on futures can change too, and if you’re using max margin capacity when the broker decides to change its requirements, you can be forced to exit at exactly the wrong time..

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Fair enough.. I used to say trade s&p E-mini futures for a while..one contract ( notional value around $150k at the mo ) with a £35k account and it felt too small an account. A run of losers can Make a real dent , and I was never good enough to get my win / profit ratio high enough to feel secure in my abilities to trade large enough to make a living.  I find options trading much more reliable, and I can still put together the equivalent of highly leveraged positions if that’s what I want..

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MvR said:

trade s&p E-mini futures

yes interesting that one, I think it might have been AMP who started offering a $1 round trip on those...

I hear you regrading a run of losses, that's what makes the game so tough intraday.......so do you trade S&P using options now? Other indices? 

Edit: ok this from AMP

  • Micro E-mini S&P 500 futures
  • Micro E-mini Nasdaq-100 futures
  • Micro E-mini Dow futures
  • Micro E-mini Russell 2000 futures

Total Commissions (All Fees Included) all 4 CME E-Micro Indices = $0.37 per contract / per side

Day Trade Margins

 https://www.ampglobal.com/exchange_traded_futures/margins_requirements.html

  • Micro E-mini S&P 500 : MES = $40.00
  • Micro E-mini Nasdaq-100: MNQ = $50.00
  • Micro E-mini Dow: MYM = $50.00
  • Micro E-mini Russell 2000: M2K = $25.00
Edited by 5min OCD speculator
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