Futures markets (e.g. the Euro to US Dollar futures market) are traded using futures contracts, which are divided into several (usually four or more) contracts throughout the year. Each of the futures contracts is active for a specific amount of time, during which it can be traded, and the contract then expires, and can not be traded any more. The date upon which a futures contract expires is known as its expiration date, and the expiration dates are fixed for each futures market by the exchange that provides the market (e.g. the CME Group for the Euro to US Dollar futures market).
Standard Expiration Dates
There are four expiration dates which are considered the standard futures market expiration dates. The four standard expiration dates are the third Friday of every third month, which in 2011 (next year) will be as follows:
- March 18th
- June 17th
- September 16th
- December 16th
The standard expiration dates apply to most of the stock index futures markets (e.g. the Nasdaq 100 futures market), most of the stock index options markets (e.g. the S&P 500 options market), and some of the individual stock options markets, and are known as triple witching Friday because of the three types of markets that are expiring.
Additional Expiration Dates
There are also several expiration dates that are equally as important, but they are not known as the standard expiration dates (or as triple witching Friday). The additional expiration dates can be any day of any month, such as the Monday before the standard expiration dates, which is the expiration date for most of the currency futures markets (e.g. the Euro to US Dollar futures market).
Finding The Expiration Dates
The expiration dates for each futures market are provided by the contract specifications for each futures market, which are provided by the exchange that provides the market, and are usually available via the exchange's web site (e.g. http://www.cmegroup.com/, etc.).