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The e-mini S&P contract is attracting traders from all backgrounds and has become one of the favorite online trading contracts. The policies for the CME s Globex system as well as the latest information regarding system updates and news events can be found at www.cme.com/globex. There have been situations where erroneous orders have affected trading and elected stops in the market due to fat finger issues (typing errors). For example, rumors have it that a trader intended to sell 100 contracts and entered 10,000. This mistake caused the order system to sell until all 10,000 contracts were filled, and any stops that were under the market would subsequently be filled. Some firms may not accept actual stop loss orders but hold orders on their order desk if they are off the market by a large amount. The point I am making is that the markets are reliable but not infallible. To ensure the integrity of the marketplace, the CME has a bust trade policy so that when and if these problems arise, it can reconcile differences. Trades that would normally not have been filled may be taken off the books. Ask a representative at your trading firm if it has this policy on hand. Generally speaking, the markets change, thus driving the demand for policy changes, so it is best to keep the link to your broker bookmarked on your favorites list for easy access on the web. Exchanges can and do have system outages. When a breakdown occurs, you are exposed to market risk, which may leave you wondering what to do. You could spread the risk off in a large open-outcry product or get to know what market you can easily hedge it against. For example, the mini-sized Dow trades about the same dollar amount as the e-mini S&P does. If the Chicago Board of Trade system is operating and you are in a couple of e-mini S&P contracts when Globex goes down, you could balance the risk by entering the opposite side of the trade in a like product that has a fairly close monetary value on a tick per tick basis. This situation, though rare, has happened, leaving traders at the CME with no access until the next day s trading session while the problem was being repaired. If you trade actively, you always need to have an emergency backup plan for every step of the trading process. Smaller, less frequent traders may want to consult with a firm that offers different trading platforms to determine whether the costs warrant the access of such online order entry systems. Some traders make it a point to deal directly with larger futures commission merchant (FCM) clearing member firms instead of trading at the smaller companies registered as introducing brokers (IBs) that clear through an FCM. In some cases, traders at an IB can have advantages over those at the FCMs. For example, independent IBs can utilize the best of one, two, or more FCMs. The IB s clients may get not only more personalized services, but also better execution services from a selected FCM. Not so long ago an FCM was purchased by another firm, and some clients could not trade or close accounts until the books were transferred. If you happened to
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be a client limited to that firm for handling your trades, you were not a happy camper! An account with an independent IB may give you the flexibility to continue to trade without being affected by regulatory red tape. There will be certain times when order entry needs to be done over the phone. For instance, if your power goes out or you wish to place a trade at night or you want to trade markets other than electronic products or you want to trade contracts for which you might need special permission, you may have to call your broker. No matter whether you trade online or on the phone, you need to know market terminology and procedures you should follow. Before you place an order to initiate a position in the market, you should have made a decision about which direction you believe the market may move. If you are bullish, you will want to go long the market, meaning you are speculating that the price will go up. If you are bearish, you are speculating that the price direction will be down and would want to sell short. When offsetting a long position, you need to sell that exact same contract to liquidate your position a September bond contract is not the same as a December bond contract or the same as a September T-note contract. Offsetting makes you flat the market or out of a position. If you were short the market, you need to buy the same contract to cover your short position to make you flat the market. Most brokerage firms have a certain format they want their customers to use when they enter an order over the phone. The broker or order-taker is filling in a ticket by hand or typing the order on the computer, so following this standardized format is more likely to get your order executed correctly. Here is a common format:
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1. Name. 2. Account number. 3. Clearly state, BUY or SELL. 4. Number of contracts. 5. Contract month (and perhaps year for distant contracts). 6. What contract (perhaps indicating exchange as well). 7. Type of order. 8. Price at which the order is to be activated (not necessary for market
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orders). 9. Time duration of the order. For example, when placing an order over the phone you would say: Hi, this is John Person, account number 12345. Buy four June T-bond futures at the market. If this were another type of order, you might have said, Buy four June T-bond futures at 112 stop, good until canceled. Your broker will
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