What Is Commodity Trading?

  •  5 min read
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  • 14 Nov 2023

Key Highlights

  • Commodity trading in India plays a crucial role in risk management for various stakeholders, including farmers, producers, and end-users.

  • Apart from farmers and producers, commodity trading in India attracts various participants, including retail and institutional investors.

  • A significant portion of commodity trading involves agricultural commodities.

Commodity trading involves buying and selling various raw materials and their derivative products. These commodities cover a broad spectrum, ranging from agricultural goods to natural resources. If you're considering entering the field of commodity trading, the initial steps are essential. Start by selecting a reputable commodity broker, opening a dedicated trading account, and conducting comprehensive research into the commodities market.

Before embarking on commodity trading, it's essential to familiarise yourself with the diverse categories of commodities available for trade. Explore the following common types:

  • Agricultural Commodities

This category includes a variety of crops such as chana, soya bean, jeera, rice, and rubber. Agricultural commodities are influenced by weather conditions, global demand, and government policies.

  • Metals

Metals can be further categorised into industrial and precious metals. Industrial metals encompass aluminium, copper, and lead, which are vital for manufacturing and construction. Precious metals like gold and silver hold industrial and investment value.

  • Energy Commodities

This category involves resources that power various aspects of our daily lives. Natural gas, crude oil, and coal are prominent energy commodities. Their prices are influenced by geopolitical events, supply-demand dynamics, and global economic trends.

Understanding these distinct types of commodities provides a foundation for effective decision-making in commodity trading, allowing traders to navigate the unique factors influencing each category.

To engage in the Indian commodity market, understanding commodity exchanges is imperative. These regulated markets facilitate the trading of commodities, where participants can opt for Futures contracts rather than physical delivery. A Futures contract is a contractual agreement to buy or sell a specified quantity of a commodity at a predetermined price within a defined expiry date.

Key Commodity Exchanges in India includes:

  • Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (MCX)

Specializing in metals and energy commodities, MCX is a prominent commodity exchange in India.

  • National Commodity and Derivative Exchange (NCDEX)

Focusing on agricultural commodities, NCDEX plays a crucial role in commodity trading in India.

  • Indian Commodity Exchange (ICEX)

This exchange offers a platform for trading in a variety of commodities, contributing to the diversification of the commodity market.

MCX stands out as the nation's most modern, technologically advanced, and customer-centric exchange. It has positioned itself at the forefront by introducing numerous inventive trading tools, effectively addressing the requirements of major trading communities throughout the country.


  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Agricultural Commodities
  • Black pepper
  • Castor seed
  • Crude palm oil
  • Cardamom
  • Cotton
  • Mentha oil
  • Rubber
  • Palmolein


  • Natural gas
  • Crude oil

Base Metals

  • Brass
  • Aluminum
  • Lead
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Nickel

The National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) in India facilitates trading various commodities.

Cereals and Pulses

  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Chana (Chickpea)


  • Paddy (Basmati), etc.

Soft Commodities

  • Gur
  • Robusta Cherry AB Coffee, etc.


  • Kappa
  • Cotton


  • Jeera (Cumin)
  • Turmeric
  • Coriander

Oil and Oilseeds

  • Castor Seed
  • Soybean
  • Mustard Seed
  • Cottonseed Oil Cake
  • Refined Soy Oil
  • Crude Palm Oil, and more

Guar Complex

  • Guar Seed 10 MT
  • Guar Gum Refined Splits

In India, the stock markets present various opportunities for investing in stocks. For those seeking a more secure investment avenue, the commodity markets in the country prove to be an excellent choice. The exchange displays information regarding the prices of financial securities and offered prices for a specific commodity sourced from dealers who post these bids and offers. The commodity market in India encompasses three primary segments.

A) Stock exchanges serve as a platform where buyers and sellers of commodities converge. These exchanges maintain a dynamic list of commodities, regularly updating it to align with demand and supply trends. Trading in these commodities can be conducted through the exchange itself, at your broker's office, or online from the convenience of your home.

B) Brokers actively participate in India's commodity market, facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers while assuming the associated risks using their capital under contractual agreements with clients.

C) Additionally, commodities are traded through forward contracts, involving agreements between farmers and exporters/importers seeking to hedge against price fluctuations.

Assume you purchased a gold futures contract on MCX at Rs. 72,000 per 100 grams. On MCX, gold's margin is 3.5%. This means you will pay Rs. 2,520 for your gold. Assume that gold prices increase to Rs. 73,000 per 100 grams the following day. Then, Rs 1,000 will be credited to the bank account you linked to the commodity market. Now imagine that it drops to Rs. 72,500 the next day. Your bank account will be debited with Rs. 500. Trading commodities offer higher leverage and risk because the market fluctuates frequently.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of commodity trading

Advantages Disadvantages
When the cost of goods increases, the price of primary goods and raw materials increases, causing commodity prices to rise. Therefore, commodity trading becomes profitable when inflation rises
Margin trading can be a double-edged sword if you are inexperienced. In the market, leverage allows traders to bid big. A margin of 5 percent allows one to buy commodity futures worth Rs 100,000 for only Rs 5000. Therefore, traders can lose significant amounts of money even with the slightest change in price.
Investing in commodities can enhance traders' profit potential. By paying a margin of 5 to 10 percent, traders can take a significant position in the market. As a result, even a small increase in price can increase profits exponentially.
Commodity trading has higher returns due to commodities' high volatility.
As raw materials have a negative to low correlation with stocks, investors can diversify their portfolio by investing in commodities.
Commodities are not suitable for portfolio diversification despite their negative correlation with securities. Commodity prices do not move opposite of stock prices as experienced during the 2008 economic crisis. Inflation, unemployment, and reduced demand affect raw material demand and halt company production.
Commodity markets are highly regulated and transparent. By using electronic trading, the market is more transparent and efficient, eliminating the risk of manipulation
To generate significant returns, commodity trading requires bulk investment.
While commodities can concentrate assets in specific industries, this can also be seen as an advantage for investors seeking targeted exposure. Commodities allow for precise customization of a portfolio, enabling investors to strategically allocate resources to industries they believe will perform well, thereby optimising their overall investment strategy.
When commodities are invested for diversification, commodity investment tools typically focus on one or two industries, resulting in a higher concentration of assets.

Commodity trading is a platform for price discovery, risk management, and portfolio diversification. Participants engage in this market as - producers hedging against price fluctuations, speculators seeking profit opportunities, or investors diversifying their portfolios. The importance of commodity trading is underscored by its impact on the global economy, with fluctuations in commodity prices influencing inflation rates and economic stability worldwide.

Yes, individuals can participate in commodity trading through various platforms, including online trading accounts.

Risks include price volatility, geopolitical events, and supply-demand imbalances, requiring effective risk management strategies.

Yes, commodities are traded globally, and international factors influence commodity prices in individual countries.

Participants engage for various reasons, including speculation, hedging against price fluctuations, and portfolio diversification.

While commodities are not stocks, commodity derivatives are traded on stock exchanges, allowing investors to gain exposure to commodity price movements.

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