When traders start looking for futures trading charts, the first place you should start with it your trading broker.
Almost every broker will offer some kind of charting capability, and if they don’t provide their own charting software then they will give you access to free futures charts as part of being their customer. One broker that offers charting for the futures market has over 30 trading platforms you can choose from.
Not all of them are “full mode” which means some of the features are not available. This means that certain features like volume profile may not be active on your chart. In that case, you will have to invest in the more advanced charting package.
Futures and Forex Charts With Ninja Trader
One very powerful and popular charting software package used by many futures brokers is NinjaTrader. You can go to their website, ninjatrader.com, to see a list of their brokerage partners. They even have their own brokerage with commissions that rival any of the popular trading brokers.
Ninja Trader has different licencing packages as you can see below depending on your needs. You can see a sliding commission scale as well.
The NinjaTrader software can plot a wide variety of chart types and trading time frames and includes a long list of technical indicators. One limitation of the software is that the amount and quality of available data is limited by the broker.
Most brokers do not offer more than a few days or weeks of historical data, while others offer no historical tick data at all, severely limiting the technical analyst’s ability to back test his trading ideas and systems. This problem can be obviated by the use of a third party data provider such as CQG or Kinetic (which is owned by NinjaTrader).
This graphic is a simple chart of the light crude oil futures contract on a NinjaTrader chart. A pair of exponential moving averages, Volume and RSI were added to the chart.
Charting Futures With Sierra Charts
It takes some getting used to but I like Sierra Charts. I find them not to be energy intensive on my computer and they load quickly.
- Sierra Chart is widely known for its stable, open, and highly customizable design.
- Sierra Chart is solid professional quality software.
- Designed for efficiency and ease-of-use. It has an uncomplicated interface that can handle the most demanding applications.
- It is developed by an experienced and competent development team that stays on top of development. It has been proven and trusted by investors/traders/clearing firms for more than a decade.
- Sierra Chart is extremely fast with a definite focus on high performance in all areas of the program.
- Supports all types of markets: stocks, futures, indexes, currencies/forex and options.
Tradestation For Futures Charts
If your broker is TradeStation then you already have one of the most powerful charting software packages available to individual customers.
TradeStation was a charting software provider before it became a broker and this shows in the depth and breadth of features supported by the software. Compared to other options it can be expensive although often new customers can obtain good deals when signing up.
It provides all of the flexibility and power in charting that NinjaTrader does, and you can see an example below.
The TradeStation charting software can also be leased without a TradeStation brokerage account however that becomes relatively expensive.
Free Futures Charting Software Online
If you don’t have a futures account yet and would simply like to learn more about commodity futures price action, there are many free resources out there.
You can start out by simply obtaining a demo account at one of the NinjaTrader brokerage partners. These accounts will be of limited duration but will allow you to use the software and decide whether commodities are for you.
Futures Charts From The Exchange
The futures exchanges provide their own charting. Compared to the charting software available through your broker this charting is much more limited and also is usually based on delayed data, typically delayed by 10 to 30 minutes.
Because of the time dela,y these charts cannot be used to make day trading decisions, however they can be quite adequate for daily swing trading. Probably the most comprehensive source of commodities futures data and free charting is the CME website at cmegroup.com.
Charts are available for each of the futures listed in the CME site. Remember, these charts use delayed data but otherwise can be quite useful for technical analysis. They come with a set of technical analysis studies that can be customized.
Unfortunately these studies cannot be combined and only one can be viewed at a time. This graphic shows a typical CME chart.
Free Futures Quotes and Charts From Portals
The major internet portals such as Yahoo each have their own finance or investment area and may provide commodity futures charts. Yahoo has one of the better offerings as far as charting is concerned.
The charts here also use delayed data however unlike the CME charts you can combine different technical indicators on the same chart.
Besides the portals there are other sites dedicated to providing free charts including commodity futures charts.
One of the oldest and best is Barchart.com. You can customize the charts and they and offer a large set of technical indicators for application. The data is delayed but they also offer real time data for a price.
My Top Place For Free Futures Charts Online
If I could only pick one site for futures charting software that is free, it would be Tradingview.
Not only can I chart the futures market but also stocks and Forex. Yes there are limits to such things as number of indicators to plot and charts on the screen, but I find it to be head and shoulders above the portals and the exchanges.
The data is delayed for futures (not Forex) but you can easily upgrade and there is a 30 day free trial.
There is also a wide variety of trading indicators available including ones developed by Tradingview users.
Futures Charts Are Just Part Of Trading
There are many more sites that you can explore, but the above should be enough to get you started. The key factor in deciding which commodity futures charting solution is best for you is whether or not you already have a futures trading account.
- Start with your broker’s charting solution.
- Consider licensing a third party charting software like NinjaTrader or eSignal and paying for a historical data feed.
- Use any of the free online futures charting pacakges available
Trading is risky and regardless of the charts you use, never ignore that the risk of loss is very high especially for new traders. Stick to a proven trading plan, a proven trading strategy like we have here at Netpicks, and treat trading like a profession.