They say good things come in small packages, and that's exactly what's about to happen to the futures market.
Beginning on Sunday at 6 p.m. eastern, for the first time ever Micro E-mini futures contracts on the major indices will be available to trade on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The move marks a new development in the decades-old futures market that will give new access to retail investors.
One-tenth the size of standard E-mini futures contracts, micro futures will be available for the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq 100 and Russell 2000. And if you ask professional traders, there are major benefits to trading these limited-risk contracts.
"I think it's a huge deal for three reasons," veteran futures and options trader Jim Iuorio said Thursday on CNBC's "Futures Now."
The first directly benefits at-home traders, said Iuorio, who is managing director at TJM Institutional Services.
"If you're a retail trader who is looking to branch into different markets that you haven't traded in yet, ... you can structure a trade that's of less risk while you get your feet wet," Iuorio said. "The second thing ... — and I know this is relatively wonky — is that if you're a big options trader or trade options quite frequently, and you have big delta swings coming based on proximity to expiration or by big price swings, you can adjust deltas with a really precise kind of tool here with these micros."
Delta refers to the ratio between the change in a stock's price and the corresponding change in price of a given option on that stock, so that's an important advantage that micro futures can offer to traders chasing profits. Moreover, the contracts are fungible, so traders can use them in tandem with full-sized E-mini futures to make their trades more precise.
"A lot of times, market noise can wipe you out even though you had a really nice medium-term direction" when it comes to day trading, Iuorio said. "Being able to present your exposure with less size lets you sleep at night and widen your stop and widen your take-profit and not blow up your risk parameters."
Scott Nations, president and chief investment officer at NationsShares, said these benefits are not to be underestimated.
"I think it will be very, very big," he said in the same "Futures Now" interview. "Because they are fungible, there will not be any penalty as to liquidity. These will be just as liquid as every other contract. Jim says it's a big deal. I think it's a great deal, largely because the sizing means that if you are a trader who's using futures, you will be able to do some of the things we'd love to talk about, and that is add to a winner."
Adding to a winner may sound easy, but in the futures market, it's not as simple as it sounds, Nations said.
"That's tough to do, to add to a winner well. But it's also tough to do if it gets you into a position size that's too big. With the micros, that's not the case," the trader explained. "You'll be able to add to winners. You'll be able to reverse more easily. You'll be able to trade around your position. So I think that these are going to be a great benefit to nearly every trader, but particularly to people who watch our show."