I understand for commodities such as crude oil, there is NYMEX exchange where futures contract are listed and traded. Where exactly do I find the spot market? How does it work? Where is the price quoted? Is crude oil traded on some spot market exchange? In that case, is it physically settled at some future date? If it is, how is it different from the futures market? I am just trying to understand what do people really mean when they talk about the spot market and how trades are actually done in that market.


1 Answer 1


The spot market is the market where you can buy goods for immediate or near-immediate delivery. For example, my last apartment was heated with heating oil, which we needed to purchase directly from the supplier. Looking at their website, if I wanted to purchase heating oil right now it would be 0.7299CAD/litre and it would be delivered early next week. This is the spot market. Bilateral transactions mostly between buyers and sellers but also sometimes through intermediaries.

Where do you find the spot market ? You need to find either sellers from whom to purchase the goods or buyers for your goods. Depending on the goods, it might be as simple as going to a farm and talking to the owner and much more difficult if you want to buy a single barrel of petrol.

Where is the price quoted ? You would obtain a quote either directly from the seller or from an intermediary (e.g. marketplace, trade association, etc).

Is it physically settled at some future date ? Depending on the nature of the goods, the size of the trade, etc the delay for the delivery of the goods may not be immediate but generally it wouldn't be, say, multiple months or years ahead of time.

  • 1
    Is it the usual definition? I thought that “spot market” refers primarily to transactions through a commodity exchange rather than the retail market.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 6, 2020 at 7:30
  • The spot market is where commodities are traded for immediate delivery as compared to the futures market where delivery occurs at a later date. Jun 6, 2020 at 12:34
  • Is there a centralized exchange with published quote/price for energy commodities such as natural gas or propane? Or does one have to find a specific broker/dealer for transactions? Jun 6, 2020 at 19:27
  • @Xiaohuolong - If you're buying an energy commodity for immediate delivery, location matters. If you want to purchase at, say, the Henry Hub in Louisiana, you can use the Henry Hub spot price ycharts.com/indicators/henry_hub_natural_gas_spot_price If you want to purchase it somewhere else, the spot price will be different because of different transportation costs and different supply and demand curves. Nov 3, 2020 at 0:30

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