What is the reason that futures exist on stock indices, but not on individual stocks? My understanding is that individual stocks have options, but not futures. Is there no market for futures on individual stocks?
There's a market for single stock futures. The market (however small) is OneChicago, "an Equity Finance Exchange offering security futures products." I don't know how easy access is for retail investors.
As others have pointed out, they do in fact exist. But it may be worth pointing out a possible reason that they are not as popular as commodities futures.
If I want exposure to the oil market (for example,) buying oil futures has a big advantage over buying oil. Namely, I don't actually need to store the oil; I can roll over my position rather than taking delivery.
On the other hand, buying single stock futures does not have such a compelling advantage over buying the stock itself, so most people would simply do the latter. (Although stock futures might provide some other advantages in some very specialized situations.)
Things very similar to the idea of a "future" that routinely apply to single stocks are "warrants" and "options".
There is indeed a market for single stock futures, and they have been trading on the OneChicago exchange since 2002. Futures are available in 12,509 individual stocks, according to the exchange's current product listing. One advantage they offer over trading the underlying stock is the significantly higher leverage that is available, combined with the lack of pattern day trader rules that apply to stocks and similar securities.
Single stock futures have proven to be something of a regulatory challenge as it has been unclear whether their oversight is the remit of the SEC/FINRA or the CFTC/NFA.