Basic Knowledge

Provide the characteristics of the trading products, concepts and related technical analysis of the basic knowledge, to help customers improve their trading level.

Basic knowledge of Products


Gold is on one hand sold ornaments and on the other hand is considered a currency that can reflect international political, economic and financial status. It is called “natural currency” and “super commodity”.


South Africa accounts for around 15% of the gold output, but its production has been decreasing year by year since a peak of 1000 ton in 1970. In the meantime, gold outputs in the US, Australia, Indonesia and Peru are growing.
Recovery of gold from ornaments, dental materials and other waste metals forms a secondary supply. With development of IT and medical industries, the use of semiconductors is gradually increasing. On the other hand, producers use commodity futures and option trading to avoid risks from price fluctuation. This is a major reason for the strained market supply in recent years.

The demand of ornaments accounts for about 80% of the total demand. In India, peasants have the custom of changing money into gold. India is also the largest consumer of gold in the world. There are also demands in fields like semiconductors, integrated circuits, transistors and even dentistry. In the case of inflation, paper currency will lose its value due to depreciation, but this will never happen to gold. Therefore, gold is often collected by people to ward off risks. With financial derivatives now, the demand of physical reserve is gradually decreasing.

Major reasons for price fluctuation
There are mainly four reasons: fluctuation of the financial market, US Dollar depreciation, rise of oil price and risk of inflation. It’s widely known that gold is inflation-proof. In recent years, because US Dollar, the world’s base currency and settlement currency in gold trading, continues to depreciate, gold price keep shooting up. This year, the monetary turbulence caused by the subprime crisis in the US escalates rapidly and drives gold price up from 600 US Dollars (August) to 800 US Dollars (November) in just three months. In fact, most critics believe that gold price will continue to rise. However, it’s worrying that because of global capital surplus, the influx of fund buy orders may strengthen the speculative function of gold. Therefore, we have to be guard against the risk of violent price fluctuation.

As we have mentioned above, gold price will continue to rise in the long run, but in the short term, there are some negative factors. Gold is a tangible asset. No interest will be accrued by just holding it. Therefore, once the interest rate rises, the market will sell gold and buy commodities with better benefits, and then gold price will go down. For this reason, declarations of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) have great impacts on gold price and shall be followed closely. Besides, when geopolitical risks subside or when the tense international relationship is eased, gold price will fall somewhat.



Silver ornaments are popular and favored especially by young people. The demands of industry, film and silver products are also very large.

Silver is a byproduct of copper, zinc and lead. Now, the practice of extracting silver directly from silver mine is getting less and less. Most silver is produced as a byproduct. In addition, the secondary supply of silver is gradually increasing. This is closely related to the increasing demand for noble metals and improvement of the recovery system.

Generally speaking, the demand is increasing. It is widely used in fields like ornaments, silver products, currency and film. In photo industry, silver nitrate is widely used in films, X-ray and negative plates. Silver used in films account for 25% of the total amount. However, with popularity of digital cameras, the use of films is likely to decline in the future. In processing industry, silver is widely used in electronic products, batteries and welding fluid because of its excellent conductibility and diathermancy.

Reasons for price fluctuation
Mexico and Peru produce silver in large quantities to obtain foreign exchange. Outputs by the two countries account for about 60% of the total. Mexico, which produces a larger amount of silver, relies on export of gold, silver, copper and lead because of heavy external debts. Because of the unstable economic conditions, silver price is not quite stable. Besides, affected by gold price, when silver price relative to gold price is lower than its just price, silver becomes in hot demand; conversely, it will be sold. Silver price is also affected by the prices of nonferrous metals. For example, when zinc and nickel are mined in large quantities, the production of silver will also increase, and this will suppress silver price.

Crude Oil

Crude oil is a most important mineral resource equal to iron ore. Petroleum products refined from crude oil are widely used in all industries around the world as important sources of energy. In 2001, OPEC, which accounts for a half of crude oil exports, earned 210 billion US dollars from crude oil export.

Crude oil refers to unrefined oil extracted from oil fields. With water and impurities removed, crude oil is an icky black fluid. Various petroleum products like gasoline and lamp oil can be processed from crude oil. The use of gasoline has always ranked first.

OPEC is an international oligarch. Its movement has great impact on the market and attracts a lot of attention. In addition, unstable political situation in many member countries of this organization result in unsteady supply of petroleum.

By country, the consumption of the US ranks first, followed by Europe and Japan. In recent years, the economy of China and Asia develops very fast. The consumption of crude oil in these areas also grows rapidly.

Reasons for price fluctuation
Crude oil is, as it were, a commodity with greatest demand and largest market size. However, because its origins are limited to Russia and the Middle East, it is also a commodity with unstable supply.
OPEC is often the reason for the wild fluctuation of crude oil. Because member countries of OPEC cease production recently, the price of crude oil soars. In addition, we have to pay close attention to economic development of the major crude oil consumer-the US. Crude oil is not only a raw material of gasoline. It can also be used to produce lamp oil and volatile oil, etc. Therefore, the output change of lamp oil etc will also cause change in gasoline supply and price fluctuation.


Copper is a representative product in non-ferrous metal trading in London Metal Exchange (LME).

Copper ore is mainly produced in South America with Chile as the center, Southeast Asia with Indonesia as the center, and North America with the US and Canada as the center. The output of Chile, which ranks first, accounts for 30% of the total output, followed by the US with 8.2% and Indonesia with 7.2%.

Compared with other metals, copper has excellent electric conductivity and its use cost is lower than silver. Therefore, it is widely used in various fields represented by industry, such as wires, parts and circuits for making electrical appliances.
Besides wires in power and communication, copper is also used in air-conditioners and electronic components. In 2004, the global copper consumption was 16.4 million ton, in which Japan made a contribution of 1.2 million ton. Because its use in wire accounts for over a half of copper output, with promotion of infrastructure construction, the demand for copper will gradually increase. China’s copper consumption in the last decade grows fast. In 2002, China surpassed the US and became the largest consumer of copper.
Reasons for price fluctuation
China’s demand for copper is the major reason for the price change. Its economic development, progress with urbanization and change of copper stock in the future will all be major reasons for the change of copper price and thus attract wide attention.


As agricultural commodities can normally be harvested once a year, production cannot be adjusted like industrial products according to demands. Harvests and weather in the origins are the major factors that influence their prices.
Soybeans are primarily used as food. Then it’s found they can be used to extract edible oil. This is the origin of yellow soybean oil.
In the US, field for planting soybeans is usually prepared during early April and early May, and soybeans are sowed in mid and late May. The growth period of soybeans is normally around 4 months, so soybeans sowed in May can be harvested in September. If pre-sowing preparation is delayed because of weather, the harvest season will be around October. General crops (like corn) take nitrogen fertilizer from soil during growth, but soybeans perform nitrogen fixation and store nitrogen fertilizer in soil. As a result, soil attains balance and produces more yields, so soybeans and corn are planted alternately in poor soils. The US is the biggest soybean producer in the world. Its output accounts for over a half of gobal soybean production. As the origins of soybean in the US are concentrated in the Great Lakes region, soybean traders pay close attention to weather conditions there and Chicago, capital of the State of Illinois, on the south bank of Lake Michigan naturally become the base of spot and futures trading of grains in the US. Besides the US, Brazil, China and Argentina are also major producers of soybeans. China plants soybeans for self-sufficiency, so the major exporters of soybeans are the US, Brazil and Argentina.

Factors influencing price fluctuation
1、Supply and demand
In terms of supply, it mainly relies on production of exporters like the US, Brazil and Argentina. Agricultural policies, stock and weather in the place of production all affect supply. As to demand, it is directly affected by soybean meal and soybean oil, so there is a close relationship between supply and demand. Because soybean meal is intolerant of storage, its stock is very small and its sensitivity to demand is quite high. As a major factor affecting demand for soybeans, soybean meal draws close attention. As to soybean oil, it has many substitutes, so its influence to the demand for soybeans is far smaller than that of soybean meal. Soybean meal and soybean oil are produced at the same time in extraction. The output ratio is approximately 3:2. Therefore, soybean oil is often taken as the byproduct of soybean meal.

2、Seasonal circulation
The growth of crops is significantly influenced by season. As supply increases in the third quarter, the price of soybeans is the lowest in this period. But the price will rise after this period till the second quarter of the next year. As soybean meal and soybean oil are processed after harvest, the supply will rise greatly in one or two months from the harvest. However, the demand is also the highest at this time, so it can offset price decline due to large supply. The demand for soybean meal usually reaches the peak in winter, so the price will rise from late autumn and early winter to the end of the year. Additionally, its price would also go up from early spring to the end of summer. There is not much relativity between soybean oil and season. Generally, the price is high in the first half year and low in the second.

3、Weather conditions
Soybeans are mainly produced in the US, Brazil and Argentina. Weather conditions from sowing to harvest have a close bearing on the output of soybeans. Temperature in the germination period and humidity in the flowering period are especially crucial.

Soybean has many substitutes, like corn. Soybean and corn share many similarities in weather for growth and application, so the price ratio of soybean and corn normally stays around 2.5. The cultivation area would tilt toward the commodity with a higher price and then influence production. Soybean meal substitutes include fishmeal and high protein power of other crops. Feed price has a certain relation with livestock price. When livestock price is high, high-protein soybean meal will be added to feed. Conversely, when livestock price goes down, corn meal with more carbohydrate will be preferred. The price of soybean oil is set with a reference to prices of vegetable oils like palm oil, colza oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, peanut oil and olive oil. However, regional factors also need to be considered in research. The US mainly consumes soybean oil and sunflower oil; Malaysia and Indonesia in Asia prefer palm oil; European countries like Italy go in for olive oil.

5、Exchange rate
Because export of soybeans is concentrated in several countries (especially the US), the fluctuation of exchange rate has certain relationship with import cost. When US dollar strengthens against other currencies, the import cost would be higher when the price of soybean in other countries’ currencies would be higher, and this would have some negative impact on the export of soybeans.

6、Pertinences between commodities
Because of the complex relationship between soybean and its byproducts (soybean meal and soybean oil), its substitutes (like corn), and livestock like hogs and sheep, prices of different commodities must be investigated when we forecast the price of soybean. If we compare weekly charts of these commodities futures, we will find price relevance between soybeans, soybean meal, soybean oil and corn.


Wheat is a kind of grain and more important than other grains. As a biennial grass of the family Gramineae, wheat is one of the most common grains. Native to Mesopotamia (in present Republic of Iraq), wheat has ear height of tens of centimeters, small white flowers, and full and solid caryopsis. It is mostly used as the raw material of flour and wine and can be processed into bread, cereal and alcohol. Wheat is the most essential part of food for human beings.
Wheat is a hardy plant mostly growing in dry and cold areas. Because long-term rainfalls have adverse effects on the growth of wheat, hot and humid areas like South Asia are not suitable for wheat planting. In countries like Japan, wheat is usually sowed in winter and harvested in early summer before rain season comes. Wheat is often planted alternately with rice, which is suitable to be planted in summer. The global output of wheat is 580 million tons (by 2001), next only to corn (610 million tons) and rice (590million tons). China has the largest planting area of wheat, which is 30 million hectares, equal to the territory of Japan. Following immediately are India, Russia, the US and France. The annual output of wheat in Japan is about 700,000 tons (accounting for 1/10 of the total import). Therefore, most wheat flour of Japan is imported from the US, Russia and Australia.
There are many classification criteria for wheat. But now, it is basically classified according to grain color (red or white), grain texture (hard wheat, medium-hardness wheat and soft wheat), and sowing season (spring or winter).

Factors influencing price fluctuation
Mainland China, Russia, the US, India, France, Germany, Canada and Australia are major producers of wheat in the world. Before disintegration, the USSR was the largest wheat producer in the world. After that, China leaps to first place. The US ranks third with stable production. It is also the largest exporter of wheat in the world with about 2/3 of its annual output exported. Canada comes next to the US. It is the second largest exporter of wheat. Russia and China have high production, but they are major wheat importers due to large populations and huge consumption.

As to the seasonal factor, winter wheat is sowed in autumn and grows in winter, a period when wheat stores energy. In warm winters, pests multiply and eat wheat, and then harvest of the year will be greatly affected. Besides, over-short winter also goes against the growth of wheat because snow melts too fast and the rootstalks will suffer frost in the germination period in spring. Therefore, weather conditions in mid February are the emphasis of observation.

What’s more, at the initial stage of ear formation, wheat is most vulnerable. Pollination must be done at this stage which generally falls on early May. Without proper temperature, pollination wouldn’t succeed. Therefore, once the pollination period ends and grains basically take form, the price of winter wheat will see a sharp decline. Then, winter wheat comes to the last harvest stage which requires dry weather. Too much rainfall and lower-than-normal temperature are not conducive to the harvest of winter wheat.

To analyze market situation, we must understand major applications of different kinds of wheat first.

Hard red spring wheat-Raw material of bread
Hard red winter wheat- Raw material of bread
Soft red winter wheat- Raw material of western pastry, biscuits and cakes etc

From the above materials, we know wheat is mainly used for making food. Compared with other crops, wheat is not used as livestock feed at a high percentage. Therefore, its demand is more stable than supply and is in proportion to personal income. Japan, India, Mainland China, Eastern Europe and Australia are major importers of wheat. When the output of crops decreases or national income rises in these countries, the demand for wheat will increase.

Besides, export policies also make an important factor that influences the demand for wheat. The US government often provides low-interest rate loans to affiliated agricultural commodities of wheat importers. Therefore, political relationship between US and countries including China and countries in South America and Southern Europe is also an important condition that influences wheat import and wheat price. It is a special factor that influences price in commodity futures. Another special factor is the exchange rate of US dollar. If the exchange rate of US dollar against currencies of major importers greatly increases, the demand will decrease and the volume of exports will be reduced; on the contrary, when the demand rises, the US will increase the volume of exports.


Corn futures are one of the major futures markets in the world, as corn is the staple grain used in the west, especially in the United States. Billions of USD worth of corn futures are traded each day through markets, helping both to drive the price of corn, and to stabilize the market. Like other futures markets, not everyone involved in buying corn futures is interested in actually buying or selling corn. In fact, many people involved in corn futures are doing so simply as a way of making money through speculation.

There are two distinct reasons one might buy corn futures: hedging and speculating. Hedging is something people who actually want to be buying the physical commodity of corn do in order to minimize their risk of profit loss, should the market shift between the time they want to buy or sell a contract for corn, and the time they actually have the corn on hand. Speculating, on the other hand, is done by investors, as a way of taking advantage of the shifting market to earn money, using the physical commodities just as a proxy for the market itself. They never get their hands on actual corn; instead they continuously buy and sell corn futures to try to leverage the market.

Corn futures can be short-hedged or long-hedged, depending on whether the contract entered into says the investor will be selling corn or buying it. When someone short hedges corn, it means they are saying that at a point in the future they will sell a certain amount of corn for a set price. If someone long hedges corn, it means they are saying they will buy it for a set price. Someone who has speculated on a short hedge will make money if the actual price of corn falls between the time they buy the corn futures and the time the contract comes up, while a long hedge will be profitable if the price of corn rises.

Hedgers use the corn futures market in tandem with the spot market, which is the market that reflects the actual price of corn at the moment, to ensure that no matter what way the market moves, they never lose money. By taking opposite positions in the corn futures market and the corn spot market, any loss they might suffer in one market is offset by the gains in the other, and visa versa, so the money they make is based entirely on the physical commodity itself.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

Dow Jones Industrial Average, the earliest stock index in the world, was born in 1884. It is the most representative stock index created by Dow Jones Company, also referred to as the Dow Jones Stock Price Index, the Industrial Average, the Dow Jones, or simply the Dow.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average consisting of 30 superior stocks chosen from stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange was given the name because the earliest components were mainly manufacturing enterprises. Now, it also includes stocks of companies from other industries, such as IBM and Microsoft from computer and software related industries, McDonald from the fast food industry, American Express, Johnson & Johnson from the medical industry, and the entertainment giant Walt Disney. It is estimated that the market value of the 30 components alone is about 1/5 of the total market value in US stock markets, which shows how important the index is. The components of Dow Jones are not fixed. They are chosen and adjusted by editors of the Wall Street Journal. Of the initial components, only GE has stayed till today.

The very first published Dow Jones Industrial Average figure was 40.94. Over the following century, it maintains an important position in global stock markets. Big events in this period include Great Crash of 1929, Depression in the 1970s, Bubble Burst in 2000, and Record High in 2007. Dow Jones holds a representative position in global stock markets not only because US stock markets are the largest in the world but also because most products investors choose, such as futures, options and structural commodities, are based on Dow Jones Industry Average. Moreover, these commodities have been widely promoted as licensed commodities since 1997, and have received increasing publicity.

The Dow Jones Futures is listed on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the trading is very active.

Chicago Board of Trade:

E-mini 500 Standard & Poor

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) is an investment consulting organization founded in 1860. It is best known for its investigating creditability of enterprises (issuers of stocks and bonds) and rating them. S&P is one of the two biggest rating agencies in the world (the other is Moody's). In Japan, it is also one of the 7 rating agencies appointed by the Ministry of Finance (大藏省, original name).

S&P 500, developed by Standard & Poor’s in 1923, is a stock market index that reflects the trend of the New York stock marekt. The index is calculated using the weighted average method by base period with the number of listed stocks as the weight. The index is issued on a daily basis. All companies covered by S&P 500 are listed on major US exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ Stock Market. Its components include 400 industrial stocks, 20 transportation stocks, 40 public utility stocks and 40 financial stocks from altogether 90 industries. Compared with Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 samples from a wide range and its market value accounts for about 80% of the total market value of the New York market. It can more extensively reflect market changes. Therefore, it is followed by broad investors. Moreover, S&P 500 is also an important index for evaluating institutional investors’ operation performance.
S&P 500 futures contract is a futures contract with S&P 500 as the subject matter. It is one of the most favored stock index futures commodities by investors. But the high limit on the total value of contract restricts willness of common investors to participate in the trading. Therefore, on September 9, 1998, Chicago Mercantile Exchange released mini S&P 500 futures and the commodity is well received by investors. As it is largely traded online, it is called e-mini S&P 500 futures.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange

Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CME or the Merc, NYSE: CME, is a commodity futures exchange and financial futures exchange located in the US.
In 1898, butter and egg dealers withdrew from the Chicago Commodities Exchange and founded the Chicago Butter and Egg Board, which was reorganized as the CME in 1919. In the 1970s, Leo Melamed innovatively developed FX futures products and created the world’s first financial futures market-International Currency Market. The trading volume of the market is the largest in the world. Nikkei futures are also traded here 24 hours a day. It arouses vast interests of investors in Japan.
In July 2007, CME officially purchased CBOT. CME Group, the world's largest leading and most diverse, was thus born.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange(CME):


National Association Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, or Nasdaq, is an automatic quotation system built by the National Association of Securities Dealers. It collects and distributes broker quotes for unlisted stocks traded over-the-counter and mainly serves emerging enterprises. It has become the world’s largest securities exchange. NASDAQ 100 consists of 100 stocks selected from 5500 stocks listed on NASDAQ (except the financial industry). It is the weighted average with the number of listed stocks as the weight. On February 5, 1971, the NASDAQ Composite Index began with a base of 100.00.

NASDAQ 100 is a modified weighted average index. Its components are not restricted to a few large companies. It also includes measurement of an enterprise’s total capital. To become a component of NASDAQ 100, the average daily share volume must exceed 100,000.For a foreign enterprise, the total capital must be above 10billion US Dollars around the world and more than 4billion US Dollars in the US, and the average daily share volume must exceed 200,000. At present, the market values of all components of the index all exceed 100,000 US Dollars, and the average market value is 6billion US Dollars. The components are adjusted every year according to market value changes. On January 31, 1985, NASDAQ 100 Index began with a base of 250.00. The listing criteria of NASDAQ are relatively loose than the New York Stock Exchange. Because most hi-tech companies including Microsoft and Dell and network enterprises including Amazon and Google are listed on NASDAQ, the index becomes an important index of the performance of hi-tech and network enterprises.
Besides, quotes on NASDAQ are updated once every 15 seconds. The relativity between NASDAQ 100 and NASDAQ Composite Index is over 94%.
The NASDAQ 100 Futures is listed on the CME.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange(CME):

Nikkei 225

Nikkei 225 is a stock market index calculated on the basis of the first 225 stocks listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It is a representative stock market index alongside 东Tokyo Stock Price Index (TOPIX).
With a history of 50 years, Nikkei 225 enjoys a high prestige among global investors and stock market professionals. Nikkei 225 adopts the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It is in principle the price average of 225 individual stocks. To maintain continuity of the index, in case of stock slit or changes to components, the denominator (divider) will be adjusted.

Nikkei 225 has been calculated daily by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) newspaper since 1970. It is spread by major international price report media. Since October 1, 1985, the index has been calculated every minute. The 225 components are chosen from the first listed stocks on the Tokyo Stock Exchange based on comprehensive consideration of liquidity and business types.
On September 3, 1986, the Nikkei 225 Futures was launched at Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX), being the first stock index futures in Asia. Futures and options were later launched at Osaka Securities Exchange and CME. In July 2001, several derivatives like ETF were launched.

The 225 components consist of foods (3), textiles & apparel (6), pulp & paper (4), chemicals (17), pharmaceuticals (8), oil (3), rubber products (2), ceramics (8), steel products (4), nonferrous metals (12), machinery (14), electric machinery (29), shipbuilding (2), automotive (9), precision instruments (6), other manufacturing (3), fishery (1), mining (1), construction (9), trading companies (8), retail (8), banking (12), securities (3), insurance (4), other financial services (2), real estate (5), railway/bus (7), other land transport (2), marine transport (3), air transport (2), warehousing (1), consulting/communications (5), electric power (3), gas (2) and services (8).

The Nikkei 225 Futures was launched at Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX).

Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX):

The Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX), founded in September 1984, is the first financial futures exchange in Asia. Then, SIMEX and CME launched the world's first inter-market futures trading network. In 1999, SIMEX merged with the Stock Exchange of Singapore (SES) to form the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Footsie 100

The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index is a representative stock market index of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and one of the most important stock market indexes in Europe.
LSE, founded in London in 1801, is the biggest securities exchange in Europe. In 2007, it acquired the Italian Stock Exchange. Footsie 100 consists of 11 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. The market value of these companies account for about 80% of the total market value of the London Stock Exchange. Footsie 100 is compiled and published by FTSE Group, a joint venture between the London Stock Exchange and the Times. The index began on January 3, 1984 with a base level of 1000; the highest value reached to date is 6950.6 on December 30, 1999.

The components of Footsie Index cover stocks from 9 countries including the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Finland, Swiss, Holland, Sweden and Spain. The companies include well-known enterprises like Cable & Wireless, BT Group, Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Reuters and Barclays.

The Footsie 100 Futures is listed on the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE).

London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE):
HKSE Index

The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index is a representative stock market index reflecting the Hong Kong stock market. It is a weighted average index with the issued amount of 50 listed stocks on the Hong Kong stock market as the weight.

The index is provided by Hang Seng Bank under HSBC Hong Kong. It also arouses vast attention in global markets. The index began on July 31, 1964 with a base level of 100.

The 50 constituent stocks of HKSE Index are broadly representative. The aggregate market value of the constituent stocks account for about 70% of the total market value on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. To further reflect market trend of various stocks in the market, HKSE Index established four sub-indexes, namely finance, industry & commerce, properties and utilities in 1985.

The HKSE Index Futures is listed on Hong Kong Futures Exchange (HKFE).
Hong Kong Futures Exchange (HKFE):