Indices » S&P 500 Futures

Discover a new way to play your hunch on the stock market or hedge your stock portfolio with S&P 500 futures. Our user-friendly trading platform and exceptional customer service make us a leading futures broker. Open an account to trade futures at optionsXpress.

Contract Size
$250 x S&P 500
Tick Size
0.10 = $25.00

About CME S&P 500 Futures

The S&P 500 index is a widely recognized barometer of the U.S. stock market and is the benchmark used by most investment professionals. S&P 500 futures allow you to effectively buy or sell an extremely well-diversified portfolio of stocks, depending on your opinion of the overall stock market. The center of trading in stock index futures is the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). In 1982, the CME introduced trading in S&P 500 stock index futures, and this contract now accounts for the vast majority of all U.S. stock index futures trading.

S&P 500 futures are powerful and versatile instruments, whether you intend to risk your own capital for investment reward, or wish to insulate your stock portfolio from risk. S&P futures afford some unique advantages, allowing you to:

Participate in broad market moves, with one trading decision, without having to select individual issues. The S&P 500 futures index is designed to be an accurate proxy for a diversified portfolio of highly capitalized, blue-chip stocks.

You may be able to protect the value of a portfolio during adverse markets without incurring high transaction fees. If you own stocks, you can hedge your risk by selling S&P 500 futures. If the market declines, your futures profits may offset some or all of your stock losses.

You may benefit from a bull market move even before funds become available to purchase stock. Like all futures contracts, S&P index futures require only a small margin deposit, so you can trade large stock index contracts with a relatively small investment.

The S&P index is based on the stock prices of 500 different companies - generally about 80% industrials, 3% utilities, 1% transportation companies, and 15% financial institutions. The market value of the 500 firms is equal to approximately 80% of the value of all stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The four broad industry groupings are maintained in order to monitor the index's continued diversification. The number of companies in each grouping changes from time to time, to allow S&P more flexibility in choosing new companies for the index when openings occur.

The S&P 500 is a capitalization-weighted index reflecting the market value of the 500 listed firms. Each component stock's price is multiplied by the number of common shares outstanding for that company, and the resulting market values are totaled. The total market value of the 500 companies is then divided by a number called the Index Divisor. The total market value of all the 500 firms is compared to that for the base period (1941-1943 = 10) to derive the Index value. Because the Index is weighted in this manner, a price change in any one stock will influence the index in proportion to the stock's relative market value.

S&P adjusts the Index to avoid distortion when there are stock splits or dividends, other distributions or purchases of shared by the component company itself, mergers, acquisitions or divisional spin-offs. In each case S&P modifies the Index (through the divisor used to compare current to base value) between trading sessions. The Index then remains at the same value on the opening of trading as it was at the prior close, and any performance difference is insignificant.

optionsXpress clients have the ability to trade S&P 500 futures. We also offer futures on a number of other leading global stock indexes, including the Nasdaq 100, Russell 2000, MidCap 400, and many more. If you trade stock index futures, optionsXpress is the online futures broker for you!

CME S&P 500 Futures Specifications

S&P 500 futures, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, trading symbol SP. The standard contract size is $250 x S&P 500 index. The minimum tick is .10, worth $25 per contract.

Open-outcry trading in full-size S&P 500 futures is conducted from 9:30 AM US EST until 4:15 PM US EST Monday through Friday.

Trade after hours on the CME Globex platform Monday through Thursday 4:30 PM US EST until 9:15 AM US EST the next day, with one half hour maintenance break between 5:30 PM and 6 PM. Additionally, S&P futures trade Sunday from 6:00 PM US EST until 9:15 AM US EST Monday morning.

S&P 500 futures trade on a quarterly cycle. Trading months include March, June, September and December.

Please see the disclosures page for additional information regarding this section.