Futures and Commodities Data

SlopeCharts has access to decades of historical data from the most popular futures and commodities markets in the United States, as well as some overseas markets. Platinum members have access to all the futures data, whereas Gold and Platinum users have access to the “continuous” long-term futures data (Gold cannot access the individual contracts). Please note this is daily data spanning many decades but is not updated in real time. It is updated each night with the latest price, volume, and open interest information,

Choosing an Individual Contract

For Platinum-level users, you can access individual futures contracts, by choosing Futures Markets from the Tools menu.

A dialog box will appear with three dropdown menus: one with the markets, one with the years available, and one with the contract months available. You select these from left to right, beginning with the “Market” dropdown:

Once you have chosen the market, the available years will be presented in the Contract Year dropdown and, upon choosing the year, you will see the Contract Month choices available for that specific market in that chosen year.

For example, here is the December 1987 futures contract for the S&P 500, which includes the famous crash of October 1987. The volume pane is displayed at the bottom.

Here is crude oil roaring higher when Iraq invaded Kuwait (take note how the rise began many days before the actual invasion took place!):

Another historical tidbit: the “head-fake” plunge in commodities during the Russian Coup of August 1991:

Limit Up/Limit Down

There are instances in futures history in which a simple “dash” appears for a given day (or many days), such as with silver back in 1980. This is indicative of a “limit up” or a “limit down” market in which the exchange publishes one price for the day, but little or no trading actually transpired that day. This was when the Hunt brothers tried (and failed) to corner the silver market late late 1979 and early 1980:

Open Interest

Besides the volume pane, you can also see the Open Interest data for any given contract. Press Ctrl-I on the keyboard to toggle between showing and hiding this pane:

Front Months

Of course, futures contracts do not last forever: they expire. Therefore, if you enter a futures contract symbol into a watch list, it will not be long before that contract simply stops updating, since it will have expired. You can keep changing the symbol, of course, but that’s a pain.

SlopeCharts has a handy feature that excuses you from this nettlesome task: just enter the “@” sign followed by the root symbol, and it will fetch the front month. @GC for gold, @W for wheat, and so forth. Here, for example, is the result of @ES as of the composition of this post. There is no need to know what the front month is. It will fetch the present front month for that particular market, based on open interest data.

Continuous Futures Contracts

As mentioned already, futures contracts expire, and therefore a chart of a given futures contract will usually have no more than a month or two of meaningful price data. However, you can enjoy a long-term view of a given market by way of the continuous futures contracts (sometimes called “synthetic contracts”) in SlopeCharts. Gold and Platinum users both have access to these.

To get a continuous contract, type the slash symbol (/) followed by the market symbol. For example, /S gets the long-term soybeans, /W for wheat, /ES for the S&P 500, and so on. Here, for example, is the continuous contract for wheat, which goes back to the 1950s.

The dozens (or even hundreds) of individual contracts that are “stitched” together to make a long-term price chart are adjusted when you fetch the chart to take into account price gaps which sometimes occur from one contract to another. In some markets, the price gap can be extreme, which, if left unaddressed, would create a chart full of giant price leaps which did not in fact take place in the market.

What SlopeCharts does is “back adjust” the data so that the gaps are eliminated. This back-ratio adjustment is automatic and requires no choice on your part, but if you want to change this, we offer you the ability to create a different presentation of the price graph. Specifically, you can go into the Preferences for SlopeCharts, click the General tab, and change the Continuous Contract Adjustment to be Front Adjusted (instead of the Back Adjusted default) or, if you want raw, unadjusted data, select Do Not Adjust.