Welcome to NYMEX WTI Light Sweet Crude Oil Futures

NYMEX WTI Light Sweet Crude Oil futures (ticker symbol CL), the world’s most liquid and actively traded crude oil contract, is the most efficient way to trade today’s global oil markets.

NYMEX WTI trades nearly 1.2 million contracts a day, with each contract equal to 1,000 barrels and valued at roughly $44,740.* The contract trades in increments of one cent per barrel. 

Priced out of Cushing, Oklahoma, NYMEX WTI also has deep ties to energy markets worldwide.  

*Data as of June 28, 2017

Product Last Change Chart Globex Vol

What’s in a Name?

WTI (West Texas Intermediate) is a light, sweet crude oil blend. ‘Light’ refers to its low density and sulfur content, ideal for conversion to gasoline and diesel fuel. The contract’s ticker symbol, CL, refers to “Crude Light.”

Contract Size 1,000 barrels
Minimum Tick $0.01 per barrel
Dollar Value of One Tick $10 U.S. Dollars
Product Symbol CL
Trading Hours Sunday - Friday 5:00pm - 4:00pm CT with a 60-minute break each day at 4:00pm CT
Contract Months All
Trading Venue CME offers electronic trading almost 24 hours /6 days a week
Options Available Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly

NYMEX, home of the global energy marketplace, is one of the four U.S. exchanges operated by CME Group, the world’s largest derivatives marketplace. 

Why Trade NYMEX WTI Futures?

Crude oil markets offer opportunities in nearly all market conditions but can be highly volatile. Several factors impact prices, directly (pipeline changes) or on a macroeconomic level (i.e., economic health, weather), making price risk management is critical. 

NYMEX WTI futures offer direct exposure to the oil market, a key advantage over other ways to trade, whether you’re looking to hedge risk or speculate on where oil prices are headed.

Hedgers use NYMEX WTI futures to minimize the impact of potentially adverse price moves on the value of their oil-related assets. This includes a broad cross-section of energy companies, such as oil exploration and production companies, refiners, distributors, and import/export firms. 

Speculators use NYMEX WTI futures to express and seek to profit on their views of direction of oil prices, and include many firms and individuals.

Benefits of Trading NYMEX WTI Futures

Deep, liquid market

Nearly 1.2 million contracts trade daily, with 2 million+ in open interest 

Global benchmark

WTI is the go-to measure of world’s oil prices due to the rise in U.S. production, Asian usage and liftoff of U.S. export ban 

Futures leverage

Control a large contract value with a small amount of capital. Used properly, it’s a powerful way to increase capital efficiency and exposure.

Safety and security

Central clearing helps mitigate counterparty credit risk 

60/40 U.S. tax treatment  

Enjoy 60% long term, 40% short term treatment on capital gains 

Nearly 24-hour electronic access

Manage positions around the clock and react as global events occur


Trade using the CLOB, blocks, cleared-only transactions and EFRPs

≥ 80% margin offsets  

Trade with other NYMEX oil contracts for significant savings and precise exposure

Physical settlement  

NYMEX WTI is closely connected to the spot market, reducing costs 

NYMEX WTI and the Oil Market Ecosystem

Spread NYMEX WTI with other liquid NYMEX energy benchmarks to easily capture inherent price relationships, and get cross-margin savings, operational efficiencies and lower costs. 


Gasoline and diesel prices are impacted by crude oil price changes, and can be traded with this spread.


View NYMEX RBOB Gas Contract Specs

NYMEX WTI Crude and NYMEX Heating Oil

Crude oil costs represent +account for +56%* of the +average +price of a gallon of heating oil – trade -it -+this relationship +with this spread.

*Source: EIA.

View NYMEX Heating Oil Contract Specs

NYMEX WTI Crude and NYMEX Brent Oil

North Sea Brent is the second traded crude blend after WTI. Trade the spread between these two crudes at NYMEX for increased efficiency.

View NYMEX Brent Oil Contract Specs

NYMEX WTI Crude and DME Oman Oil

Trade the relationship between light sweet (WTI) and “sour” crude (DME Oman crude), used primarily in Asia.

View DME Oman Oil Contract Specs

  • No management fee Unlike ETFs, pay no management fee with NYMEX WTI futures
  • Trade around the clock 24 hour-access means no waiting for the ETF open as market events (U.S. elections, weather events) that impact oil prices unfold
  • Unparalleled liquidity Enjoy significantly more daily liquidity than founds with other oil instruments
  • Direct exposure Many of today’s oil and energy index ETFs use NYMEX WTI futures to get their oil market exposure
  • No roll slippage Avoid the costly loss of correlation to oil market that many oil ETFs exhibit near the futures roll 
  • Direct exposure Easier to trade on oil price changes in futures vs. stocks
  • No uptick rule Easily sell short with NYMEX WTI futures, no uptick rule or special requirements to worry about
  • Trade around the clock Nearly 24-hour access enables you to react to off-hour news and events affecting the oil market
  • Margin efficiency Basket of oil company stocks requires 50% margin paid upfront vs. 3%-12% margin of NYMEX WTI contract value, translating to greater buying power

Key Reports/Factors that Move Markets

EIA weekly reports (Wednesdays) - track U.S. crude inventories levels stored for future use

API weekly reports (Tuesdays) - track total U.S. and regional inventories and refinery operations data

OPEC meetings of 14 top exporting countries - when OPEC talks, the oil markets listen

Refinery capacity reports - track use vs. capacity for available oil refineries

GDP reports - track health of the U.S. economy and in turn, consumer demand for gasoline 

Natural gas inventory reports – cheaper nat gas affects oil demand as a viable energy alternative

Weather events can impact major production sites and pipelines

World events –war, financial crises elections and more can affect oil policy and cost of oil

Import/export policy changes – can dramatically impact world oil supply and, in turn, prices

Check out the "Learn about Key Economic Events" course and economic release calendar at the CME Institute to learn more.

Learn to Trade NYMEX WTI Futures

Ready to take the next step? Find the resources you need – introductory courses, trading tools and simulators, research, market commentary and more – at the CME Institute:

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