Sizing Up Global Futures Markets

Although both US and global futures markets are growing, where the growth is coming from varies. TABB Group head of derivatives research Russell Rhoads looks at the contracts driving the growth and how global markets measure up against the US.

US futures markets are on track for another record volume year, with expected year-over-year growth of 6%, according to TABB estimates. Global futures trading is expected to grow by 20% in 2019.

Although both markets are growing, where the growth is coming from varies. For instance, interest rate futures volume is set to increase by about 13% in the US, while interest rate futures volume globally may experience a slight downtick. Globally, the volume increase is being led by a more broad-based increase in volume from the equity, energy, agricultural, and metal markets. Equity-based futures trading, which includes equity index and single-stock futures, outside the US will total well over 5 billion contracts in 2019 – that’s greater than all futures trading across all markets expected in the US.

Exhibit 1: US and Global 2018 Actual and 2019 Estimated Futures Contract Volume by Sector

Data Source: FIA


TABB Group examined specific contracts trading outside the US to get an idea of the source of the volume and maybe to introduce US traders to markets they may not have considered for hedging, speculating, or implementing other strategies. Exhibit 2, below, shows the top 10 futures markets by volume through the first nine months of 2019. US markets that would make this list are mixed in to give some perspective on just how large futures markets are outside the US.

Exhibit 2: Top 10 Futures Markets by Volume, First Nine Months of 2019

Data Source: FIA

Brazil, Russia, India, and China are represented in the top five, with the Bovespa Mini Index futures that trade on the B3 Exchange in Brazil topping the list. The markets that comprise the top 10 represent several types of futures, including stock index, energy, currency, and even an interest rate futures contract. US markets that have volume comparable to these markets include two interest rate futures products (Eurodollar and 10-Year Treasury Notes) and the E-Mini S&P 500 futures.

TABB Group’s Russell Rhoads dives deeper into these actively traded markets in his latest research, “What’s Trading Around the World? Part 1 – Global Futures,” which breaks out the markets by notional value. He also takes a first look at the 10 fastest growing futures markets outside the US.

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