How to Find and Trade Futures on TradeStation?

by Jennifer

TradeStation is a popular brokerage platform renowned for its robust tools and resources for futures trading. As a sophisticated trading platform, TradeStation offers an array of features that enable traders to effectively find, analyze, and trade futures contracts. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to find futures on TradeStation, detailing the steps to access futures markets, utilize the platform’s features, and execute trades efficiently.

Introduction to TradeStation

Overview of TradeStation

TradeStation is a leading online brokerage and trading platform that caters to a diverse range of investors and traders. Known for its powerful trading tools, advanced charting capabilities, and extensive market access, TradeStation serves both retail and institutional clients. The platform supports trading in various asset classes, including equities, options, futures, and cryptocurrencies.


Importance of Futures Trading

Futures trading is a crucial aspect of the financial markets, offering opportunities for hedging, speculation, and diversification. Futures contracts enable traders to buy or sell an asset at a predetermined price on a future date, providing a mechanism for managing price risk and capitalizing on market movements.


Setting Up for Futures Trading on TradeStation

Opening a Futures Trading Account

To begin trading futures on TradeStation, you need to open a futures trading account. This involves:

1. Application Process: Complete the online application form on the TradeStation website. You will need to provide personal information, financial details, and trading experience.

2. Verification: Submit the required identification documents for verification.

3. Funding Your Account: Once your account is approved, fund it with the minimum required deposit to start trading.

Platform Installation and Access

TradeStation offers multiple platforms for trading, including TradeStation Desktop, Web Trading, and the TradeStation Mobile app. Download and install the TradeStation Desktop platform for the most comprehensive trading experience, or access futures trading through the web or mobile platforms for flexibility.

Navigating the TradeStation Platform

TradeStation Desktop Interface

The TradeStation Desktop platform is the most feature-rich version, offering advanced tools and customization options. Key components of the interface include:

Workspace: A customizable layout where you can add charts, order entry panels, watchlists, and other tools.

Chart Analysis: Advanced charting tools with a wide range of technical indicators and drawing tools.

Market Depth Window: Displays the order book for futures contracts, showing bid and ask prices.

Order Bar: For entering and managing orders.

Accessing the Futures Market

To find futures on TradeStation, follow these steps:

1. Open the TradeStation Desktop Platform: Log in to your TradeStation account.

2. Market Data Subscription: Ensure you have subscribed to the necessary market data packages for futures trading.

3. Futures Symbol Lookup: Use the Symbol Lookup feature to find the specific futures contract you wish to trade. Go to the “Data” menu and select “Symbol Lookup.” Enter the asset or commodity name, and TradeStation will display the available futures symbols.

Creating a Watchlist

1. Open a New Workspace: Go to the File menu and select “New Workspace.”

2. Add a Watchlist: Click on the “Apps” tab, select “Watchlist,” and drag it into your workspace.

3. Add Futures Symbols: Enter the futures symbols you found using the Symbol Lookup tool. You can customize the columns to display relevant data such as last price, change, volume, and open interest.

Analyzing Futures Contracts

Using Chart Analysis

TradeStation provides robust charting tools to analyze futures contracts:

1. Open a Chart: Right-click on a futures symbol in your watchlist and select “Chart Analysis.”

2. Apply Technical Indicators: Use the “Studies” menu to add technical indicators such as Moving Averages, Bollinger Bands, MACD, and RSI.

3. Customize Timeframes: Adjust the chart timeframe to suit your trading strategy, from intraday charts (e.g., 5-minute, 15-minute) to daily, weekly, or monthly charts.

4. Drawing Tools: Utilize drawing tools to mark trendlines, support and resistance levels, and other key chart patterns.

Market Depth and Order Flow

Understanding market depth and order flow can provide valuable insights into futures market activity:

1. Market Depth Window: Open the Market Depth window from the “Apps” tab to see the bid and ask prices, along with the number of contracts at each price level.

2. Time & Sales: The Time & Sales window displays real-time trade data, showing the price, volume, and time of each trade. This can help you gauge market sentiment and activity.

Placing Futures Trades on TradeStation

Order Entry

TradeStation offers several methods for entering futures orders:

1. Order Bar: Use the Order Bar to enter orders directly from the chart or watchlist. Specify the contract, order type (market, limit, stop), quantity, and other parameters.

2. Chart Trading: Enable Chart Trading to place and manage orders directly on the chart. Click on the chart to set order levels and drag them to adjust.

3. Matrix: The Matrix is a powerful tool that combines market depth and order entry in one interface. You can place orders by clicking on the price levels in the Matrix.

Order Types

TradeStation supports various order types to suit different trading strategies:

Market Orders: Execute immediately at the current market price.

Limit Orders: Execute at a specified price or better.

Stop Orders: Trigger a market order when a specified price is reached.

Stop-Limit Orders: Trigger a limit order when a specified price is reached.

See Also: How to Trade a Futures Spread?

Managing Orders and Positions

1. Order Status Window: Monitor the status of your orders in the Order Status window. Here, you can see open, filled, and canceled orders.

2. Position Management: Use the Positions tab to track your open futures positions, including unrealized gains/losses, margin requirements, and account balances.

Risk Management and Strategy

Implementing Risk Management

Effective risk management is crucial for successful futures trading. Key risk management tools on TradeStation include:

Stop-Loss Orders: Set stop-loss orders to limit potential losses on your trades.

Position Sizing: Determine appropriate position sizes based on your risk tolerance and account size.

Diversification: Avoid overexposure to any single futures contract by diversifying your trades across different assets or markets.

Developing a Trading Strategy

A well-defined trading strategy is essential for consistent performance in futures trading. Consider the following steps:

1. Define Your Goals: Determine your trading objectives, such as income generation, capital growth, or hedging.

2. Market Analysis: Conduct thorough market analysis using fundamental and technical analysis tools.

3. Entry and Exit Rules: Establish clear entry and exit rules for your trades based on your analysis and risk management principles.

4. Backtesting: Use TradeStation’s backtesting tools to test your strategy on historical data and refine it based on the results.

Utilizing TradeStation’s Educational Resources

Learning Center

TradeStation offers an extensive Learning Center with resources to help traders improve their skills and knowledge:

1. Webinars and Seminars: Participate in live and on-demand webinars and seminars covering various aspects of futures trading, platform features, and market analysis.

2. Video Tutorials: Access video tutorials that provide step-by-step guidance on using the TradeStation platform and trading futures.

3. Articles and Guides: Read articles and guides on trading strategies, market insights, and platform updates.

Community and Support

Engage with the TradeStation community and support resources:

1. User Forums: Join the TradeStation user forums to share insights, ask questions, and learn from other traders.

2. Customer Support: Contact TradeStation’s customer support for assistance with technical issues, account inquiries, and platform navigation.


Finding and trading futures on TradeStation is a straightforward process, thanks to the platform’s advanced tools, comprehensive resources, and user-friendly interface. By opening a futures trading account, utilizing the platform’s features, and implementing sound trading strategies, traders can effectively participate in the futures markets and capitalize on trading opportunities. Whether you are a novice trader looking to learn the basics or an experienced trader seeking sophisticated tools, TradeStation provides the support and resources needed to succeed in futures trading.

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