Investor's wiki

Cash Market

Cash Market

What Is a Cash Market?

A cash market is a marketplace wherein the commodities or securities purchased are paid for and received at the point of sale. For instance, a stock exchange is a cash market since investors receive shares immediately in exchange for cash.

Cash markets are otherwise called spot markets on the grounds that their transactions are settled "on the spot." This can be diverged from derivatives markets, for example, the futures market, where buyers pay for the right to receive a decent, like a barrel of oil, at a predefined date from now on.

The cash market ought not be mistaken for the money market, which includes trading in cash equivalents (i.e., extremely short-term debt instruments) like Treasuries and commercial paper.

Understanding Cash Markets

Cash markets can occur either on a regulated exchange, like a stock market, or in somewhat unregulated over-the-counter (OTC) transactions. While regulated exchanges offer institutional protections that can safeguard against counterparty risks, OTC markets permit the gatherings required to redo their contracts. Futures markets are led solely on exchanges, while forward contracts — ordinarily utilized in foreign exchange (FX) transactions — are traded on OTC markets.

Sometimes, the line between cash markets and futures markets can get obscured. For instance, stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) are generally cash markets, yet they additionally work with the trading of derivative products which are not settled on the spot. Therefore, contingent upon the underlying assets being traded, the NYSE and other exchanges can likewise operate as a futures market.

Whether an investor decides to execute on a cash market or a futures market will rely upon their unique requirements. For instance, an industrial company that requirements oil to fuel its production processes could purchase barrels of oil on a cash market and take physical delivery at the point of sale. Paradoxically, that equivalent company could wish to hedge against the risk that oil prices will rise before very long. To do as such, it could purchase futures contracts for oil, in which case no physical barrels of oil would exchange hands at the time of sale.

Spot Price

The current price of a financial instrument is called the spot price. It is the price at which an instrument can be sold or bought immediately. Buyers and sellers make the spot price by posting their buy and sell orders. In liquid markets, the spot price might change continuously, as orders get filled and new ones enter the marketplace.

Special Considerations

Numerous commodities have active cash markets, where physical spot commodities are bought and sold in real-time for cash. FX additionally has cash currencies markets, where the underlying currencies are physically exchanged following the settlement date. Delivery typically happens in the span of two days after execution as it generally requires two days to transfer funds between bank accounts. Stock markets can likewise be considered spot markets, with shares of companies changing hands in real-time.

In choosing cash and derivatives markets, investors will likewise consider the costs of executing in every marketplace. For most commodities, the cost of purchasing that commodity in the spot market is lower than its cost in the futures market. This is on the grounds that there are costs associated with taking physical possession of the commodity, for example, storage costs and insurance.

Albeit a huge amount of transactions happen on cash markets worldwide, a far larger quantity of transactions occur on futures markets. This is for the most part due to the different derivative markets, which have become progressively large and liquid in recent years.

Illustration of a Cash Market

ABC Foods is a manufacturing company that involves wheat in several of its food products. Rather than developing wheat straightforwardly, ABC depends on the cash market to give its wheat supplies. It purchases large amounts of wheat every month from farmers, paying for those goods in cash and stockpiling them in its warehouses.

Notwithstanding its cash-market purchases, ABC additionally utilizes forward contracts to secure the right to purchase wheat at predetermined prices from now on. In these circumstances, ABC doesn't claim the wheat at the point of sale. These transactions happen on an OTC basis among ABC and a specific [counterparty](/counterparty, for example, a food broker or a specific wheat producer.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Cash Markets

The cash market price is the current quote for immediate purchase, payment, and delivery of a specific commodity. This is unbelievably important since prices in derivatives markets, for example, for futures and options, will unavoidably be founded on these values.

Cash markets additionally will more often than not be extraordinarily liquid and active hence. Commodity producers and consumers will take part in the spot market and afterward hedge in the derivatives market.

Pros and Cons of Cash Markets


  • Real-time prices of actual market prices

  • Active and liquid markets

  • Can take immediate delivery, if desired


  • Taking physical delivery in many cases is not desired

  • Not suited for hedging

A detriment of the cash market, be that as it may, is taking delivery of the physical commodity. Assuming you buy spot pork bellies, you currently own a few live hoards. While a meat processing plant might want this, a [speculator](/speculator) presumably doesn't.

Another downside is that cash markets can't be utilized successfully to hedge against the production or consumption of goods later on, which is where derivatives markets are better fit.


  • Stock exchanges are viewed as cash markets since shares are exchanged for cash at the point of sale.
  • This can be diverged from derivatives markets, where investors purchase the right to take possession sometime not too far off.
  • In a cash (spot) market, purchasers take immediate possession of goods at the point of sale.