Selling (Going Short) Crude Oil Futures to Profit from a Fall in Crude Oil Prices

If you are bearish on crude oil, you can profit from a fall in crude oil price by taking up a short position in the crude oil futures market. You can do so by selling (shorting) one or more crude oil futures contracts at a futures exchange.

Example: Short Crude Oil Futures Trade

You decide to go short one near-month NYMEX Brent Crude Oil Futures contract at the price of USD 44.20/barrel. Since each Brent Crude Oil futures contract represents 1000 barrels of crude oil, the value of the contract is USD 44,200. To enter the short futures position, you have to put up an initial margin of USD 12,825.

A week later, the price of crude oil falls and correspondingly, the price of NYMEX Brent Crude Oil futures drops to USD 39.78 per barrel. Each contract is now worth only USD 39,780. So by closing out your futures position now, you can exit your short position in Brent Crude Oil Futures with a profit of USD 4,420.

Short Crude Oil Futures Strategy: Sell HIGH, Buy LOW
SELL 1000 barrels of crude oil at USD 44.20/barrelUSD 44,200
BUY 1000 barrels of crude oil at USD 39.78/barrelUSD 39,780
ProfitUSD 4,420
Investment (Initial Margin)USD 12,825
Return on Investment34.46%

Margin Requirements & Leverage

In the examples shown above, although crude oil prices have moved by only 10%, the ROI generated is 0.00%. This leverage is made possible by the relatively low margin (approximately 29.02%) required to control a large amount of crude oil represented by each contract.

Leverage is a double edged weapon. The above examples only depict positive scenarios whereby the market is favorable towards you. If the market turn against you, you will be required to top up your account to meet the margin requirements in order for your futures position to remain open.

Learn More About Crude Oil Futures & Options Trading

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