Investor's wiki



What Is Backwardation?

Backwardation is the point at which the current price, or spot price, of a underlying asset is higher than prices trading in the futures market.

Figuring out Backwardation

The slant of the curve for futures prices is important on the grounds that the curve is utilized as a sentiment indicator. The expected price of the underlying asset is continuously changing, notwithstanding the price representing things to come's contract, in view of fundamentals, trading situating, and supply and demand.

The spot price is a term that portrays the current market price for an asset or investment, like a security, commodity, or a currency. The spot price is the price at which the asset can be bought or sold currently and will change over the course of a day or over the long run due to supply and demand powers.

Ought to a futures contract strike price be lower than the present spot price, it means there is the expectation that the current price is too high and the expected spot price will ultimately fall from here on out. This situation is called backwardation.

For instance, when futures contracts have lower prices than the spot price, traders will sell short the asset at its spot price and buy the futures contracts for a profit. This drives the expected spot price lower after some time until it ultimately meets with the futures price.

For traders and investors, lower futures prices or backwardation is a signal that the current price is too high. Subsequently, they expect the spot price will ultimately fall as the expiration dates of the futures contracts draws near.

Backwardation is now and then mistook for an inverted futures curve. Generally, a futures market expects higher prices at longer maturities and lower prices as you draw nearer to the current day when you meet at the current spot price. Something contrary to backwardation is contango, where the futures contract price is higher than the expected price at some future expiration.

Backwardation can happen because of a higher demand for an asset currently than the contracts developing later on through the futures market. The primary reason for backwardation in the items' futures market is a shortage of the commodity in the spot market. Manipulation of supply is common in the crude oil market. For instance, a few countries endeavor to keep oil prices at high levels to help their incomes. Traders that wind up on the losing end of this manipulation and can cause huge losses.

Since the futures contract price is below the current spot price, investors who are net long on the commodity benefit from the increase in futures prices over the long run, as the futures price and spot price unite. Moreover, a futures market encountering backwardation is beneficial to theorists and short-term traders who wish to gain from arbitrage.

Nonetheless, investors can lose money from backwardation on the off chance that futures prices proceed to fall, and the expected spot price doesn't change due to market occasions or a recession. Likewise, investors trading backwardation due to a commodity shortage can see their positions change quickly in the event that new providers come online and increase production.

Futures Basics

Futures contracts are financial contracts that commit a buyer to purchase an underlying asset and a seller to sell an asset at a preset date from here on out. A futures price is the price of an asset's futures contract that develops and gets comfortable what's in store.

For instance, a December futures contract develops in December. Futures permit investors to lock in a price, by one or the other buying or selling the underlying security or commodity. Futures have expiration dates and preset prices. These contracts permit investors to take delivery of the underlying asset at maturity, or offset the contract with a trade. The net difference between the purchase and sale prices would be cash settled.


  • Backwardation can be beneficial to speculators and short-term traders wishing to gain from arbitrage.

  • Backwardation can be used as a leading indicator signaling that spot prices will fall in the future.


  • Investors can lose money from backwardation if futures prices continue to move lower.

  • Trading backwardation due to a commodity shortage can lead to losses if new suppliers come online to boost production.

## Backwardation versus Contango

In the event that prices are higher with each successive maturity date in the futures market, it's portrayed as a vertical slanting forward curve. This vertical incline — known as contango — is something contrary to backwardation. One more name for this vertical slanting forward curve is forwardation.

In contango, the price of the November futures contract is higher than October's, which is higher than July's, etc. Under normal market conditions, it's a good idea that prices of futures contracts increase the farther the maturity date since they incorporate investment costs, for example, carrying costs or storage costs for a commodity.

At the point when futures prices are higher than current prices, there's the expectation that the spot price will rise to combine with the futures price. For instance, traders will sell or short futures contracts that have higher prices from now on and purchase at the lower spot prices. The outcome is more demand for the commodity driving the spot price higher. After some time, the spot price and the futures price combine.

A futures market can shift among contango and backwardation and stay in one or the other state for a short or extended period.

Backwardation Example

For instance, suppose the there was a crisis in the production of West Texas Intermediate crude oil due to poor climate. Accordingly, the current supply of oil falls decisively. Traders and organizations rush in and buy the oil, which pushes the spot price to $150 per barrel.

Notwithstanding, traders anticipate that the weather conditions issues should be impermanent. Subsequently, the prices of futures contracts for the year's end remain moderately unchanged, at $90 per barrel. The oil markets would be in backwardation.

Throughout the next couple of months, the weather conditions issues are settled, and crude oil production and supplies fully recover levels. Over the long run, the increased production pushes down spot prices to join with the finish of-year futures contracts.


  • Traders use backwardation to create a gain by selling short at the current price and buying at the lower futures price.
  • Backwardation is the point at which the current price of an underlying asset is higher than prices trading in the futures market.
  • Backwardation can happen because of a higher demand for an asset currently than the contracts developing before long through the futures market.