Product Overview

What are E-mini Crude Oil futures?

E-mini Crude oil futures contracts are half the size of the full size WTI Crude Oil contract that consists of the West Texas Intermediate, (WTI) or light sweet crude oil that is stored and distributed in Cushing, Oklahoma and has long been a benchmark for oil prices. 

Why would you want to trade E-mini Crude Oil futures?

  1. Allows traders to take advantage of the Crude oil market with a lower margin requirement than the full size contract.
  2. Can be volatile, subject to swift price swings due to geopolitical, production and weather events.
  3. Allows traders to gain exposure in relatively straightforward manner compared to ETF counterparts.

How do you trade E-mini Crude Oil futures?

Energy futures markets allow traders to hedge the risk they may carry in their equity portfolio or jump to opportunities triggered by economic, political or weather events.  

They offer instant exposure to the underlying commodity of your choice, whether it's crude oil, natural gas, gasoline or heating oil.

Ready to get started trading futures?  You'll need to open an account with a broker.  Click Here to View a Broker List

Key Benefits

Gain the advantages of the Crude oil market but with a lower margin

TRADE A SLICE OF CRUDE OIL FUTURES

Get the same benefits as the world's leading Crude Oil futures, but for a smaller up-front initial margin and less notional exposure.

DIVERSIFY TO HELP REDUCE RISK

Having a mix of different investment types in a portfolio can help cushion against wide swings in key sectors during uncertain markets.

GAIN PURE MARKET EXPOSURE

E-mini crude oil futures offer straightforward exposure to underlying crude oil, avoiding the slippage and tracking errors that can come with ETFs and stocks.

PRECISE RISK MANAGEMENT

Manage event volatility with the ability to fine-tune your exposure with a smaller contract.

MORE FLEXIBILITY

E-mini crude oil futures let you fine-tune your exposure and go short as easily as you can go long: no short-selling restrictions.

MORE OPPORTUNITY

Gain access to the crude market that you may have thought was out of reach. Add the benefits of diversification for lowering risk and increasing potential for rewards.

Explore E-mini Crude Oil futures in depth

Trading on Globex

One critical element to market liquidity is how tight or, in other words, how small the difference between the bid and offer is. For example, if QM is quoted at a minimum increment of (.025) in the nearest two expiring contract months ‒ it is an indication of efficient, tight markets. Keep in mind, there is no guarantee that the market will always be quoted at .025, and in times of tremendous volatility, it may be quoted wider than .025. E-mini WTI Crude Oil markets are available for trading on Globex nearly 24 hours a day, 6 days a week throughout U.S., European and Asian trading hours.

Contract expiration/roll

E-mini WTI Crude Oil is a financially settled contract, which means delivery will take place in the form of cash settlement. A trader holding an open QM position in an expiring contract at its termination of trading shall make payment to or receive payment based on the contract’s Final Settlement Price. When a contract is cash-settled, settlement takes place in the form of a credit or debit made for the value of the contract at the time of contract expiration.

It is important to be aware of when trading terminates for QM to take the appropriate action on your position. As the last trading day approaches, the liquidity tends to transition from the front month to the next corresponding contract month. It is imperative that traders monitor market liquidity leading into the last trading day so as to avoid difficulty managing your position.

So, a trader holding an open position in QM as last trading day approaches essentially has three options. They can:

  1. Close their position by either buying or selling the number of contracts they are holding, leaving them without exposure to WTI Crude Oil.
  2. Roll their position to a deferred month. Typically, traders who want to maintain exposure to WTI Crude Oil will roll their position to the next expiring month. This is a common practice throughout all futures products and there is typically a very efficient, liquid spread market on CME Globex that enables market participants to roll positions in a cost-effective manner. For example, if a trader was long one March QM contract and wanted to maintain that long exposure, they could sell a Mar/Apr spread (sell Mar buy Apr) and the resultant position would be long one April contract.
  3. Hold the position and allow it to go into delivery. A trader will make or receive payment based on the contract’s Final Settlement Price. This option would close their position, leaving them without exposure to WTI Crude Oil once the delivery process concludes.

Delivery process

Delivery under the E-mini Crude Oil Futures contract shall be by cash settlement. Final settlement, following termination of trading for a contract month, will be based on the Floating Price. The final settlement price will be the Floating Price calculated for each contract month.

NYMEX Rulebook Chapter 401 describes the specific rules surrounding the delivery process for E-mini WTI Crude Oil.

Futures margin

In order to hold a futures positions, traders are required to post what we refer to as “margin” for each contract held. Unlike US equities, where trading “on margin” involves a loan from one’s broker (and associated interest payments), “margin" in futures is a performance bond or collateral held by the broker.

Currently, the margin requirement for one contract of QM is $2,262. If a trader holds one contract, they would be required to post that amount as collateral. If the position were to move against the trader, they would be required to post additional funds in order to maintain that amount. This is what is referred to as “mark to market”.

It is important to keep in mind that margin requirements can change as volatility in the market adjusts. CME Group will typically require higher margins as volatility increases. Additionally, brokerage firms may, at times, require higher margins than the Exchange.

Energy/oil market fundamentals

The price of WTI Crude Oil can be impacted by many different factors, and it is the global benchmark for one of the world’s most important commodities.

One of the reasons that WTI Crude Oil is a popular product to trade is the many different elements that can contribute to the price of oil including supply/demand, storage, currency fluctuation, geopolitical disruptions (particularly in the oil-producing Middle East), natural disasters, and more.

Because of the numerous factors that can impact the price of WTI Crude Oil, we recommend traders familiarize themselves with CME Group’s Event Analyzer which lists the different economic events and number releases that can affect the price level. Learn more.

Dynamic circuit breakers

Dynamic circuit breakers (DCBs) are similar to traditional circuit breakers but move with the market throughout the day. Within a specific time interval, DCBs define an upper and lower limit of how far an instrument is allowed to move in a specific time interval, usually an hour.

Each product has its own assigned value used to calculate the circuit breaker level, typically a percentage of its previous settlement price. QM’s dynamic circuit breaker is 15% and you can find more information on our DCB methodology here and here. You can download our DCB per product here.

Velocity logic

Velocity logic governs how far the price of a product can move within a very short period of time. Whereas price limits and DCBs look at price moves on a daily or hourly basis, velocity logic is a control designed to prevent market dislocation on a second by second, or even sub-second, time interval. Velocity logic events can cause a particular market to halt temporarily when a market reopens after a velocity logic event has been triggered, CME Group will restart the 60-minute window and calculate accordingly. Velocity logic uses a lookback window’s highest and lowest prices in the previous time interval. If QM’s lookback window consists of a high price = 42.17 and a low price = 42.13 and the velocity logic’s variance is 1.5, then the VL high bid = 43.67 and VL low bid = 40.63. You can learn more about velocity logic here.

Price banding

Price banding evaluates incoming orders to ensure that a single order is not filled outside of an acceptable range from the last price, either on the upside or downside. It is symmetrically applied to both the upside (for bids) and downside (for offers) to determine the price band variation range (PBVR). With each price change, the PBVR is recalculated and the new range is applied. The CME Globex platform rejects all bids and offers outside the PBVR. QM’s price band is .5 (found in the GCC Product Reference Sheet). If QM is trading at $42.15, then the effective price bands are: bid = $42.65 and ask = $41.65.

Contract Specifications


Contract Month

All

Trading Hours

5:00pm – 4:00pm (Sun–Fri) CT with a 60-minute break each day beginning at 4:00pm CT

Product

E-mini WTI Crude Oil

Contract Size

500 barrels

Trading Venue

CME offers electronic trading almost 24/6

Minimum Tick

$0.025 per barrel

Product Symbol

QM

Dollar Value of One Tick

$12.50 U.S. Dollars

Price Limit or Circuit

Price Limits

Settlement Method

Financially Settled

Options Available

None

Termination of Trading

Trading terminates 4 business days prior to the 25th calendar day of the month prior to the contract month (1 business day prior to the termination of trading in Light Sweet Crude Oil Futures).

Contract Specifications


Product Name

Options Expirations

Options Symbol

Trading Venue

Trading Hours

5:00pm – 4:00pm (Sun–Fri) CT with a 60-minute break each day beginning at 4:00pm CT

Type Of Expiration

Minimum Tick Size

E-mini WTI Crude Oil QM Price

Open
High
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% Change
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Last Trade as of CST. 10 Minutes Delayed Quote. Powered by CQG

Futures Calendar

19 AUG Last Trade
E-MINI CRUDE OIL FUTURES
QMU21
20 SEP Last Trade
E-MINI CRUDE OIL FUTURES
QMV21
19 OCT Last Trade
E-MINI CRUDE OIL FUTURES
QMX21
  • CRUDE OIL WTI TOOLKIT

    Interested in learning more about the world’s most liquid, actively traded crude oil contracts? Our toolkit, covers the key benefits, the contract specifications, and what every active trader needs to know about trading crude oil WTI futures and options.

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