Trade E-Mini S&P 500 Futures Contracts

What Are E-Mini S&P 500 Index Futures?

The E-mini S&P (Standard and Poor’s) 500 index futures are the most actively traded futures contract. Founded in 1957, the S&P 500 index is regarded as a key benchmark for the U.S. stock market and plays an essential role in the global financial markets.

The S&P 500 index is a cap-weighted index, which means each stock’s influence on the index price is determined by market capitalization giving greater weight to larger companies. The performance of these larger stocks has significant impact on the overall price movement of the index which makes the S&P 500 index a key indicator of the US stock market's overall strength and directional trend.

Why Trade E-Mini S&P 500 Index Futures?

The E-mini S&P 500 index futures (contract symbol = ES) is a derivative of the S&P 500 index. It provides traders direct exposure to speculate on the combined price of the 500 largest market-capitalized companies listed on US stock exchanges including household names like Apple, JPMorgan Chase, and Johnson & Johnson. 

Benefits of trading E-mini S&P 500 futures include:

Dollar sign with up and down arrows

Easily go long or short based on your own view of upcoming stock market performance.

Multiple stacked lines

Hedge a stock portfolio against market declines for short or long periods of time.


React quickly to trading opportunities and breaking news before the stock market opens.

Curved line with dots at each end

Flexible contract sizes allow you to start small with Micro contracts and scale up your positions.

Trade Micro E-mini S&P 500 Index Futures To Reduce Costs

At 1/10th the size of the E-minis contract, Micro E-mini futures allow traders to access the highly liquid equity index futures markets with reduced costs including only $50 margins. Other advantages of trading these bite-sized contracts include:

  • Access to the most popular and liquid futures contracts
  • Highly leveraged investment for more buying power*
  • Reduced financial commitment vs. the E-mini contract
  • Increased flexibility for position management

Micro E-mini futures contracts provide an ideal starting point for new futures traders to start small and scale up as you become more comfortable in the live markets. 

*Leverage also increases the risk associated with futures trading and only risk capital should be used for trading


Who trades E-mini S&P 500 index futures?

E-mini S&P 500 futures contract traders can be broken down into three main groups:

  • Commercial traders are typically trading index futures to hedge their price risk on a large portfolio of stocks. These traders are typically large banks, pension funds, mutual funds, or other institutional investors.
  • Large professional speculators are typically speculating on the price movement of the E-mini S&P 500 futures contract. Typically, commercial traders and large speculators make up 85% or more of the daily trading volume in the E-mini S&P 500 futures. 
  • Self-directed retail traders make up the remaining daily trading volume in E-mini S&P 500 index futures and, like large professional traders, typically speculate only on the price movement of the futures contract. Many use analytical tools, such as an E-mini S&P 500 futures chart, to inform their decisions.

What Can Affect The Price Of E-mini S&P 500 Index Futures?

Although the E-mini S&P 500 futures are made up of the largest 500 stocks, the top 50 stocks account for over 50% of the price action each day. This means that earnings and news events in any of these top key component stocks can have a large, disproportionate effect on the index price. 

Bar chart

Macroeconomic Factors

Economic indicators such as GDP growth, inflation rates, and employment data can have a significant influence on market sentiment and investor confidence. Positive economic data, such as strong GDP growth or declining unemployment rates, can drive prices for the E-mini S&P 500 index futures higher. Of course, negative economic data can lead to a decline in prices as investors become more cautious and risk averse.

Dollar bills

Interest rates and FED policy

Changes in interest rates and monetary policy decisions can also impact the price of S&P 500 index futures. When interest rates are low, it can stimulate borrowing and investment, which tends to boost stock prices. On the other hand, when interest rates rise, borrowing becomes more expensive, potentially reducing economic activity and causing stock prices to decline. 

E-Mini S&P 500 Index Futures Contracts Specifications

Standard E-mini S&P 500 Index FuturesMicro E-mini S&P 500 Index Futures


Contract point value$50 USD
$5 USD
Minimum price fluctuation.25, (50 * .25 = $12.50 per contract per-minimum move)
.25, (5 * .25 = $1.25 per-contract per-minimum move)
Trading hoursSunday 6:00 p.m. ET to Friday 5:00 p.m. ET
Sunday 6:00 p.m. ET to Friday 5:00 p.m. ET
Listed contractsQuarterly: March(H), June(M), September(U), December(Z) - nine quarters out and three additional December contracts
Quarterly: March(H), June(M), September(U), December(Z) - five quarters out
Expiration style3rd Friday of every listed contract month. There is not a first notice date for this contract.
3rd Friday of every listed contract month. There is not a first notice date for this contract.
SettlementFinancially settled
Financially settled
Additional Specifications
View all from CME Group
View all from CME Group

Become an E-Mini S&P 500 Index futures trader today

Ready to start trading E-mini index futures and Micro index futures? NinjaTrader is here to support you. With award-winning features and daily premium market commentary with industry pros, NinjaTrader equips you with the tools you need to embark on your trading journey.

Open Account

Why 1M+ Users Choose NinjaTrader

Award-Winning Futures Brokerage

Award-Winning Futures Brokerage

High-performance platform. 100+ futures tools. Pro-level charts. Unlimited simulated trading.

Discount Futures Trading Pricing

Discount Futures Trading Pricing

No account minimum. Margins as low as $50 and commissions as low as $.09 per contract.

Trade How You Want And Where You Want

Trade How You Want And Where You Want

Our cloud-based infrastructure empowers you to trade futures across all your devices.

First-Class Support And Futures Education

First-Class Support And Futures Education

Free 24-hour emergency trade desk. Daily webinars. 100s of on-demand training videos.

Best Brokerage for Trading Futures

NinjaTrader is recognized for our unique combination of a high-performance trading platform, discount pricing, and real-time support.

Download NinjaTrader's award-winning software for FREE and see why it's consistently voted an industry leader by the trading community. NinjaTrader is always free to use for advanced charting, backtesting and trade simulation.

Get Started