CME E-mini S&P 500 futures contract, ticker symbol ES, is one of the most liquid futures contracts in the world and one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to gain market exposure to the S&P 500 index.
The S&P 500 is a broad-based, market capitalization weighted index that tracks 500 of the largest companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy and serves as a key indicator of the health of the U.S. stock market. E-mini S&P 500 futures allows you to take positions on the performance of the S&P 500 Index electronically at a reasonable price.
The futures contract trades Sunday through Friday, from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time (CT), with daily trading halts from 3:15 to 3:30 p.m. A single ES contract has a value of $50 times the agreed-upon E-mini futures price, and trades in increments of 0.25 index points, with one tick equaling $12.50.
ES futures expire on a quarterly basis, settling in cash to the spot value of the S&P 500 Index on the 3rd Fridays of March, June, September, and December. In addition to the quarterly expirations, the E-Mini S&P Futures offer weekly options for Wednesday and Friday expirations. Currently, ES futures require approximately 5% as initial margin, resulting in over 20x leverage on their position.
E-mini S&P 500 futures allow you to hedge your macro exposure or capitalize on anticipated movement in the S&P 500 Index, especially around major market-moving events. Some data releases with special importance to the ES market include the U.S. Jobs Report, quarterly earnings reports, and any releases or statements made by the FOMC.