The basic idea is that there is little differentiation between a commodity coming from one producer and the same commodity from another producer. A barrel of oil is basically the same product, regardless of the producer. By contrast, for electronics merchandise, the quality and features of a given product may be completely different depending on the producer. Some traditional examples of commodities include the following: Grains Gold Beef Oil Natural gas The modern commodities market relies heavily on derivative securities, such as futures contracts and forward contracts. Through these contracts, buyers and sellers can transact with one-another easily and in large volumes without needing to necessarily exchange the physical commodities themselves. In fact, many of the buyers and sellers of commodity derivatives do not intend to make or take physical delivery of the commodities. Instead, they speculate on the price movements of the underlying commodities for purposes such as risk hedging and inflation protection.
Notes before investing in commodities
Commodities Speculators The second type of commodities trader is the speculator. These are traders who trade in the commodities markets for the sole purpose of profiting from the volatile price movements. These traders never intend to make or take delivery of the actual commodity when the futures contract expires. Many of the futures markets are very liquid and have a high degree of daily range and volatility, making them very tempting markets for intraday traders. Many of the index futures are used by brokerages and portfolio managers to offset risk. Also, since commodities do not typically trade in tandem with equity and bond markets, some commodities can also be used effectively to diversify an investment portfolio.
Commodities as a Hedge for Inflation Commodity prices typically rise when inflation accelerates, which is why investors often flock to them for their protection during times of increased inflation—particularly unexpected inflation. As the demand for goods and services increases, the price of goods and services rises, and commodities are what's used to produce those goods and services. Because commodities prices often rise with inflation, this asset class can often serve as a hedge against the decreased buying power of the currency.