An agreement to buy or sell a specific commodity is known as a futures contract. This contract allows the buyer to purchase a commodity at a fixed price on a predetermined date in the future. The seller, on the other hand, must deliver the commodity at the agreed-upon price and date. Futures contracts are commonly used in financial markets to hedge against price fluctuations and to speculate on the future price of commodities.

Futures contracts can be traded on regulated exchanges, such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, or over-the-counter (OTC) between two private parties. The price of a futures contract is determined by the current spot price of the commodity, the time until delivery, and the cost of carry, which includes storage, insurance, and financing costs.

One of the main advantages of futures contracts is that they provide a way for market participants to manage their risks. For example, a farmer who grows corn can use a futures contract to lock in a price for their crop before it is harvested. This way, they can protect themselves against a potential drop in the price of corn when they are ready to sell it.

Similarly, a manufacturer that needs a steady supply of copper can enter into a futures contract with a supplier. This way, they can lock in a price for copper and avoid the risk of price fluctuations that could affect their production costs.

Futures contracts are also popular among speculators who are looking to profit from changes in the price of commodities. Speculators can take either a long or short position in a futures contract, depending on their view of the market. A long position means that they believe the price of the commodity will rise, while a short position means that they expect the price to fall.

Futures contracts are not without risks, however. The price of a commodity can be affected by a wide range of factors, including supply and demand, geopolitical events, and weather conditions. In addition, leverage is often used in futures trading, which means that a small price movement can have a large impact on the value of the contract.

In conclusion, futures contracts provide a way for market participants to manage their risks and speculate on the future price of commodities. While they can be a useful tool, it is important to understand the risks involved and to have a clear understanding of the underlying market before trading futures contracts. As always, it is recommended to consult with a financial advisor before investing in any financial instrument.