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A Guide on Trading Commodities in the UAE

Jul 11, 2023 | UAE Company Setup

Are you looking to unlock financial opportunities in the dynamic field of trading commodities? With its rich history in commodity trading, the UAE provides a unique backdrop for trade, spanning from its contribution to the Silk Road to the current day.

Focusing on commodities like oil, gold, and agricultural products, we cover various trading strategies, the pros and cons of trading commodities, and how to diversify your investments.

Whether you’re a beginner just starting — or an experienced trader seeking fresh insights — this guide offers valuable knowledge to enhance your trading strategies and sharpen your decision-making skills. So, if this is tempting, read on to explore further to add another dimension to your financial portfolio!

What Is Commodity Trading?

Commodity trading involves investing in physical substances like oil, gold, or agricultural products. As a commodity trader, your role can vary significantly. You might secure a supply of raw materials for a business or industry, create liquidity in an international market, or even invest in a speculative capacity. Many traders act as speculators, aiming to profit from small movements in commodity prices, often through futures contracts.

Types of Commodities

Commodities usually fall into two broad groups: hard and soft commodities. Hard commodities are natural resources that need to be mined or extracted, like gold, rubber, and oil. Soft commodities, however, are agricultural products or livestock, including corn, wheat, coffee, sugar, soybeans, and pork. So what are the top five traded commodities globally? That’d be crude oil, natural gas, gold, silver, and copper.

Stock Photo of Trading Gold

Special Characteristics of the Commodities Market

A commodity market is a place for buying, selling, and trading raw materials or primary products. The main thing about commodities is their necessity in modern societies. Plus, their prices can fluctuate a lot. The season affects the prices of many, which is especially true for agricultural products. For example, corn usually peaks in March and April before the growing season, and hits a low in September and October, after the crop’s been harvested.

A History of Commodities Trading in The UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a rich history in commodity trading. This spans from its key contribution to the old Silk Road to technical commercial innovations in today’s trade. The years after the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UAE have tested its interpretation and practical application in the commodity trading sector.

The Commodity Exchange Act in the UAE is in place to regulate the trading of commodities, including livestock and livestock products. It also sets minimum net financial requirements for futures commission merchants.

How to Trade Commodities

Engaging in commodity trading can be a profitable endeavour. However, you definitely want to understand the various methods of participation before jumping into this trading business.

Commodities Futures

Commodity futures are a favoured investment method. In futures trading, you’re predicting the future price of a commodity. This requires specific expertise and understanding, as the return on your investment hinges on accurately forecasting price trends.

Access to futures trading is available through larger brokers and trading-centric platforms. Fees for futures are computed on a per-contract basis and can differ. When selecting a platform, consider the broker’s security measures and customer service.

Physical Commodity Purchases

Investing in commodities can also be done through physical purchases. This could be direct, as with tangible assets like gold or silver bullion. However, this approach comes with its own set of hurdles, such as storage and security concerns.

Stock Photo Of Trading

Commodities Stocks

Another alternative is investing in commodities stocks. This involves purchasing shares in companies that produce commodities. While this strategy doesn’t provide you with direct exposure to commodity prices, it can offer a way to invest in the commodity sector with the added advantage of potential dividend earnings.

Commodities ETFs, Mutual Funds and ETNs

Commodity ETFs, mutual funds, and ETNs offer another avenue for commodity investing. ETFs and mutual funds can provide you with exposure to a variety of commodities. The optimal commodity ETF will depend on the type of commodity you want exposure to and your preferred method of gaining that exposure.

Commodity ETNs are debt securities that promise a return based on an underlying commodity index. They trade similarly to commodity ETFs but carry credit risk akin to bonds. ETNs were created to simplify the process for retail investors to invest in hard-to-reach instruments, particularly in the commodity and currency sectors. However, they’re reliant on the creditworthiness of the issuing bank, so it’s crucial to be cognizant of the issuer’s credit rating and financial stability.

Should You Invest in Commodities?

As a participant in the commodities market, you might question the wisdom of such investments. To make informed decisions, you’ll need to employ both fundamental and technical analysis. The former helps you evaluate whether to buy or sell by considering futures, options, and the interplay of supply and demand on raw material markets. Conversely, technical market analysts predict future trends by examining historical price behaviours.

Implications for commodity traders

The fluctuation of commodity prices is a result of supply and demand dynamics, a trait shared with all volatile investments. This volatility, coupled with the necessity for discipline – the capacity to adhere to a strategy amidst market fluctuations – underscores the intricacies of commodity trading.

In recent years, ETFs and ETNs have become increasingly popular. ETFs, which reflect the price performance of exchange-traded products, are essentially equity equivalents of physical commodities.

Five factors to achieve success in the coming years

To thrive in commodity trading, it’s crucial to choose a trading platform that aligns with your needs and provides the necessary services. Understanding the dynamics that affect commodity prices, such as supply and demand, is also vital. Discipline is another crucial element, as it allows you to adhere to your trading strategy amidst market volatility.

Moreover, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the various trading instruments at your disposal, such as ETFs and ETNs, and their operation. Lastly, understanding the risks associated with commodity trading and how to mitigate them is crucial.

Stock Photo Of ETF

Pros and cons of trading commodities CFDs

Another trading instrument worth considering is the Contract For Differences (CFD). This is a pact between a buyer and a seller that obligates the buyer to pay the seller the difference between the current and contract-time value of an asset. CFDs provide traders and investors with the chance to profit from price movements without owning the underlying assets.

They offer benefits such as lower-cost access to the underlying asset compared to outright purchase, ease of execution, and the ability to go long or short. However, they also come with drawbacks, such as an immediate decrease in the investor’s initial position, reduced by the spread size upon entering the CFD.

CFD trading is widespread in several major trading nations, except the United States, where it’s forbidden. It involves costs including a commission, a financing cost, and the spread – the difference between the bid and offer price at the trade time. CFDs offer higher leverage than traditional trading, but this leverage is regulated.

They can be traded on many of the world’s major markets, providing around-the-clock access. Despite the potential for high returns, CFD trading comes with significant risks, including liquidity risks, margin maintenance requirements, leverage risks, and execution risks.

These risks have led to CFDs being banned in the U.S. by the SEC. Other factors contributing to the riskiness of CFD trading include poor industry regulation, potential lack of liquidity, and the necessity to maintain an adequate margin due to leveraged losses.

Successful trading in CFDs is achievable but risky compared to other forms of trading. Most successful CFD traders are seasoned and tactical. They can short CFD instruments at any time without borrowing costs, as the trader doesn’t own the underlying asset.

However, CFD trading is fast-paced and requires vigilant monitoring. If a trader can’t cover reductions in values, the provider may close their position, leading to potential losses regardless of subsequent changes in the underlying asset’s value.

Diversifying Commodity Investments with Futures

Futures contracts are a prevalent method of commodity investment. These contracts are agreements to buy or sell a predetermined amount of a commodity at a specific price on a specific date in the future. Most of these contracts are closed out or netted at their expiration, with the price difference between the original trade and the closing trade settled in cash.

Stock Photo of Contract

Energy Futures

Energy futures, introduced in the 1970s to help control price volatility, are among the most liquid and widely-traded markets worldwide. They have become an integral part of the modern financial system due to their efficiency in keeping prices in check. Energy derivatives, financial instruments whose value is based on energy products, can be traded on a formal exchange, such as the CME, or on an Over-The-Counter (OTC) basis. The CME alone handles over 18 million contracts per day, with NYMEX WTI Light Sweet Crude Oil futures trading nearly 1.2 million contracts a day.

Metal Futures

Metal futures allow speculation on the future price of metals and can be used to hedge against potential price changes. Like energy futures, these can be traded on formal exchanges or on an OTC basis.

Agriculture Futures

Agriculture futures are widely traded contracts that allow farmers, manufacturers, and other businesses to lock in prices for commodities, protecting them from potentially unfavourable price changes. They also allow speculators to make directional price bets on the underlying asset’s price.

Currency Futures

Currency futures are a type of futures contract that allows speculation on the future value of a specific currency. These contracts can be used to hedge against potential changes in currency exchange rates. Like other types of futures contracts, currency futures can be traded on formal exchanges or on an OTC basis.

Unveiling Commodities Trading Strategies

A commodities trading strategy is a well-defined plan that guides your actions in the commodity futures and options markets. These strategies often incorporate technical analysis, moving averages, and other metrics to guide your entry or exit from a position.

There’s a plethora of trading strategies at your disposal. For instance, range trading involves purchasing at the support level when prices are at the nadir of a range and selling at the resistance level when prices are at the zenith. Breakout trading is ideal for markets with robust trends, where you buy just before a price surge and sell just before a significant drop. Fundamental trading strategies hinge more on market fundamentals, including unique market factors, than on technical trading dynamics.

Commodity Options

Commodity options are contracts that use commodities as underliers. They grant you the privilege to buy or sell the underlying goods at a predetermined price on a future date.

These contracts encompass the right to buy (call option) or sell (put option) the underlying commodity futures at fixed prices on the contract’s expiry date. A call option grants you the privilege to buy the underlying commodity futures at a fixed price on the contract’s expiry date. Conversely, a commodity put option permits you to sell the underlying commodity futures at a preset price upon the contract’s expiration.

Optimal Timing for Commodity Trading

The optimal time for commodity trading can fluctuate based on the specific commodity and market conditions. For instance, the Indian commodity market is ideal for trading seven goods due to their escalating demand in both the domestic and international markets: Crude oil, Aluminium, Nickel, Copper, Gold, Silver, and Natural gas.

Stock Photo Trading Natural Gas

Trading Hours for Commodities

Trading hours for commodities can fluctuate based on the specific commodity and the exchange where it’s traded. While commodity trading carries high risk due to price volatility, the commodity futures market is highly leveraged, which can sometimes make it safer than investing in stocks. However, the high leverage also implies that the profit potential is high but comes with risk.

Commodity Pools and Managed Futures

Commodity Pools and Managed Futures are investment strategies that involve pooling funds from multiple investors to trade in the futures and options markets. These strategies can provide you with exposure to the commodities markets, potentially offering diversification benefits. However, like all investment strategies, they come with their own set of risks and should be considered carefully.

Steering Success in the Commodities Trading Voyage

In the vast ocean of financial markets, commodity trading stands as an intriguing and potentially rewarding endeavour. It is an intricate matrix that navigates through various commodities, strategies, futures, ETFs, and ETNs – all swirling within the sector’s dynamic currents. The UAE, with its rich history of commodity trading since the Silk Road times, is an ideal harbour for such an expedition.

Recognised trading instruments like futures contracts, commodity stocks, physical purchases, and CFDs open up avenues of opportunities. They also expose investors to significant nuances such as price volatility, storage and security issues, and intensive market scrutiny.

Seasoned traders strike gold by adhering to a disciplined trading strategy, understanding supply-demand dynamics, selecting a suitable platform, and being cognizant of their trading instruments’ operation alongside the associated risks.

Instruments like Commodity ETFs, Mutual Funds, and ETNs not only simplify investing in commodities but also expand the trader’s horizon by providing access to a variety of these assets. However, it’s equally vital to be mindful of the viability of these trading tools in one’s unique financial landscape.

Commodity futures, energy derivatives, metal futures, agricultural futures, and currency futures serve as anchors in the volatile tides of the commodities market. Yet, they demand a thorough understanding of market trends and future price speculations.

Success in commodity trading is not exclusively about sailing in calm waters but also about surviving and thriving amidst storms. Be it range trading, breakout trading, or fundamental trading strategies, the compass always points to well-defined plans and success.

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