A Beginner’s Guide on How to Trade Commodities in India: In olden times, commodities like grains, cotton, oil, cattle, etc were heavily traded among the people and communities to meet their requirements. You might have seen movies of people carrying goods on the top of Camels to trade with others. Not much has still changed even in the 21st century. Even now, people and countries trade these items. And these days, anyone can trade in commodities to make substantial profits, apart from trading in traditional stocks and other derivatives instruments.
In this article, we are going to discuss the step-by-step process of how to trade commodities in India. Here, we’ll first cover the basics like what is a commodity, who are commodity buyers and sellers, the types of commodities traded in India, etc. Later, we’ll get into the technicalities like margin required and how exactly to trade in commodities in India. Let’s get started.
What is a Commodity?
In simplest words, a commodity is any raw material that has a physical form and which can be bought or sold and are interchangeable in nature with another similar commodity. Some of the traditional examples of commodities include Grains, Wheat, corn, soybeans, or other foodstuffs, Cattle or other stock animals, Cotton, oil, gold, etc.
Investing/trading in commodities is a good way to diversify your portfolio with assets other than stocks, gold, etc. Investors or Traders can buy commodity directly in the spot (cash) market or via derivatives market by trading in Futures and Options.
Types of Commodity traders
There are generally two types of commodity traders – Hedgers and Speculators.
— Hedgers are buyers or producers of commodities that use commodities futures contracts for hedging purposes. These traders take the delivery position of the original commodity when the futures contract expires.
— The second types of trader are the Speculators who enter the market for the sole purpose of profiting from the price movement or volatility of commodity futures contract.
Commodity trading exchanges in India
In India, the commodities are traded via five exchanges. Traders are allowed to trade commodity derivative contracts from any of the following exchanges:
- National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE)
- Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)
- Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX)
- National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX)
- Indian Commodity Exchange Limited (ICX).
An interesting point to mention here is is that NSE and BSE launched trading in commodities only in 2018. Further, the commodities market is regulated by SEBI. (Earlier it was regulated by Forwards Markets Commission (FMC), which was later merged with the SEBI in 2015). All the commodities in India are traded via the online portals.
Margin required to trade Commodity in India
Commodities are products that require higher-margin, compared to any other product like equity futures or options. Different products under the preview of a commodity require a different amount of margins.
Here is a list of the most actively traded commodity along with the margin required for Normal (or delivery) mode and MIS (Margin Intraday Square off) mode.
Pic: Intraday and Normal margin for various commodities (source: www.zerodha.com)
If we were to carefully look at the picture above, for different commodities the margin varies with the change in the price of the commodity futures contract. The images above clearly give information about the Normal margin, the Intraday margin, and the price levels for which the margins are calculated.
List of commodities traded in India
The commodity sector in India has been divided into five sectors namely – Agriculture, Metals and Materials, Precious metals and materials, Energy and, Services. These sectors are again classified and divided into various constituents.
Tips before Entering the Commodity Trading
Here are a few factors to be kept in mind before deciding to enter the commodity trading:
- Commodity trading is one the fastest growing product, for trading in India.
- Although risky by nature, but if done with careful analysis and complete understanding, commodity trading adds the required pinch of diversification to the portfolio.
- The margin required to trade commodities is slightly on the higher side.
- The amount of margin required to trade the commodity keeps on changing depending upon changes in the price of futures contact of those commodities.
How to Trade Commodities in India? Step-by-Step Explanation
By now, you would have understood what commodity trading is, its various nuances, the margin requirements, the various players in commodity trading, and the different products. Let us now try and understand as to how does one start commodity trading in India.
For the sake of explanation, we have used Zerodha’s web (as they are the discount brokers with the highest customer base), to explain the steps.
Step 1: You need to have a trading account with one of the brokers that allow commodity trading (for example, Zerodha, Angel broking, 5Paisa, etc.). If you don’t have one, here’s an article on the best discount brokers in India, so that you can pick the one that suits you the best.
After opening the trading account, a separate form has to be filled, which activates the commodity trading along with equity trading in the same account. The margin account for equity trading and Commodity trading is different. The margin of Equity cannot be used for Commodity trading and vice-versa.
Step 2: We need to have a sufficient margin balance in our commodity trading account. Margin is the minimum amount of money required to trade. The amount of margin required varies from a Normal trade to a MIS (Margin Intraday Square off) trade.
The main difference between these two is that in case of Normal trade, the position can be carried over to the next day. However, in case of a MIS trade, the position will automatically get squared off before the end of the day.
The amount of margin required is the least for the Covered order. The covered order is that order for which the stop loss is pre-decided. And, hence the margin is least.
Now, if we carefully look at all the images above, the first image shows the amount margin required for Crude oil October futures contract in Intraday MIS mode (Margin = Rs. 2,00,410). The second image shows the margin required when we trade NRML (Normal) contract (Margin = Rs. 4,00,882). And the third image shows the amount of margin required for a covered order (Margin = Rs. 88,026).
Step 3: The next important step that we need to consider, is to select the commodities, which we wish to trade. And upon selecting the commodities, it is advised to have all the commodities for various expiries pinned to the watch list.
Step 4: After Shortlisting the commodities to be traded, the next step is to place the order. After selecting the contract, we just need to punch in the trade on the ticket.
Now, we have two ways to take the trade – Limit order & Market order. If we place the market then we end up buying or selling at the existing market price. But if we place a limit order then we can choose the price at which we want to place the order.
Step 5: The next step while trading options is to check in the order book if the order has been placed. We can do that by simply clicking on the orders tab, and we can see the list of all the order which have been placed or canceled or executed.
Step 6: The last, but the most important step is the continuous monitoring of the positions. We should always be on the constant lookout for opportunities to trade and always have a stop loss for the existing trade.
In this article, we discussed the step-by-step procedure on how to trade Commodities in India. Here are a few key takeaways from this post:
- Commodity trading is done by both hedgers and speculators.
- It is one of the most common form of portfolio diversification method used by investors or traders.
- The amount of margin required to trade is slightly on the higher side, so the trades must be entered after doing a careful analysis of the technical and fundamental picture.
- We can do both Intraday (MIS) trading and NRML (delivery based trading) while trading commodities.
- It is always advised to have proper risk management (stop loss and target) for all the trades
That’s all for this post on how to trade Commodities in India for beginners. I hope it was useful to you. If you still have any queries to related to this topic, feel free to comment below. I’ll be happy to help. Happy Trading and Money Making!!
Hitesh Singhi is an active derivative trader with over +10 years of experience of trading in Futures and Options in Indian Equity market and International energy products like Brent Crude, WTI Crude, RBOB, Gasoline etc. He has traded on BSE, NSE, ICE Exchange & NYMEX Exchange. By qualification, Hitesh has a graduate degree in Business Management and an MBA in Finance. Connect with Hitesh over Twitter here!