As far as soft commodities are concerned, sugar futures offer a compelling investment thesis. Their solid liquidity and high volatility make them ideal for active traders looking to make a profit.
The commodity is also well known for sticking to a relatively consistent seasonal pattern, allowing for its movements to be somewhat predictable depending on which harvest season is upcoming. However, in the grand scheme of things, many traders may choose to focus their efforts on the more popular commodities like natural gas and gold. For those looking to make a play on sugar contracts, we detail how to trade futures on this soft commodity [see also Beginner’s Guide To Commodities].
First things first, those looking to invest in futures will need to decide which exchanges they would like to utilize. Below, we outline three of the most popular options in the world for trading sugar futures.
- New York Mercantile Exchange: When it comes to sugar futures in the U.S., no exchange offers the popularity that the NYMEX touts. No. 11 sugar futures contracts are quoted in U.S. dollars and cents per pound on this exchange. Each contract represents 112,000 pounds and investors can choose from March, May, July, and October contracts. Another benefit to these contracts is that they trade Sunday through Friday between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 5:15 p.m (CST), meaning that investors can make a play for approximately 23 hours every day (there is a 45 minute break period between each day) [see also Invest Like Jim Rogers With These Three Agriculture Stocks].
- Intercontinental Exchange: Sugar No. 11 can also be traded on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) with the very same contracts offered on the NYMEX. The ICE is a U.S.-based exchange and is a bit easier to navigate than the NYMEX page, as it features a more basic design layout for quick and easy access. Trading hours last between 2:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (EST) making this exchange a better fit for investors abroad; Europeans would find the majority of trading hours taking place during their work day [see also 50 Ways To Invest In Agriculture].
- Multi Commodity Exchange: Finally, investors looking to go abroad can look to India’s Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) based in Mumbai. The MCX offers medium grade sugar futures for the months of March, April, and July with trading times commencing between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and a shortened Saturday schedule that lasts between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m (local time of course).
Common Sugar Trading Strategies
Though you can trade sugar at any time during the year, investors should be aware of its peak seasons in order to make a more educated play. As far as futures are concerned, prices typically bottom out around April and May. Subsequently, they have enjoyed a nice spike in June and July for the past few years, as peak harvest begins and the demand for sugar increases. At the same time, directly investing in futures can be risky business and sometimes falls beyond the risk spectrum for investors [see also Ultimate Guide To Sugar Investing].
For those looking for an alternative way to play this sweet commodity, there are three exchange-traded products specifically designed to invest in sugar futures:
|SGG||Dow Jones-UBS Sugar Subindex Total Return ETN||0.75%|
|SGAR||Pure Beta Sugar ETN||0.75%|
Further Resources and Reading
For further reading on sugar and related topics, check out some of the links below.
- Commodity HQ Trading Center – Our free trading center offers details on your favorite commodity futures and exchange-traded products.
- Commodity HQ Heatmap Tool – Our free tool allows investors to easily compare the past performance of their favorite commodities.
- NYMEX Sugar Page – Home page for Sugar No. 11 on the NYMEX.
- ICE Sugar Page – Home page for Sugar No. 11 on the ICE.
- MCX Sugar Page – Home page for Sugar on the MCX.
- Bloomberg List of Sugar Companies – This comprehensive list includes all equity companies identified as being a part of the sugar industry.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.