What Is A Handle In Futures Trading?

What Is A Handle In Futures Trading?

In the world of futures trading, it is crucial to understand the various terminologies used to effectively navigate the complex landscape. One such term that often arises is the concept of a “handle.” While it may initially sound unfamiliar or even elusive, a handle refers to the whole number portion of a price quote in futures trading. This article will explore the significance of handles in futures trading, shedding light on its importance and providing a comprehensive understanding of this crucial element. So, let’s delve into the realm of handles and gain valuable insights into their role in the fascinating world of futures trading.

What Is A Handle In Futures Trading?

Definition of a Handle in Futures Trading

In futures trading, a handle refers to the whole-dollar price level of a futures contract. It is the part of the price quote that appears to the left of the decimal point. For example, if a futures contract is trading at 150.25, the handle would be 150.

Handles are an essential component of price quotes in futures trading, as they help traders to identify and understand the pricing and movement of futures contracts. Being able to effectively interpret and utilize handle information is crucial for successful futures trading.

Importance of Handles in Futures Trading

Handles play a crucial role in futures trading as they provide traders with valuable information about the price movements of contracts. By understanding and analyzing handles, traders can make informed decisions about buying or selling futures contracts.

Handles also serve as reference points for charting, technical analysis, and measuring price changes. They enable traders to identify key support and resistance levels, and to determine potential entry and exit points for their trades. Without handles, traders would have a harder time interpreting and leveraging market data.

Using Handles to Determine Price Movements

Handles are useful in determining price movements in futures trading. Traders can observe how the handle changes over time to gauge the trend and momentum of a specific futures contract.

For example, if a futures contract’s handle starts consistently increasing, it suggests an upward trend and increasing demand for the contract. Conversely, if the handle consistently decreases, it indicates a downward trend and decreasing demand.

By studying the handle and its changes, traders can identify price patterns and potential opportunities for profitable trades. This information is valuable for both short-term and long-term trading strategies.

Handle Vs. Point

In futures trading, it is necessary to distinguish between the terms “handle” and “point.” While handles refer to the whole-dollar price levels, points represent the decimal portion of the price quote.

Using our previous example, if a futures contract is trading at 150.25, the handle would be 150, and the point would be 0.25. Traders often use both handles and points to analyze price movements and trends accurately.

The handle and point system enables traders to identify price levels quickly, especially when dealing with large numbers and quick fluctuations. It provides a standardized method for communicating and analyzing futures contract pricing.

How Are Handles Used in Technical Analysis?

Handles are widely used in technical analysis, a trading approach that relies on historical price data, charts, and indicators to forecast future price movements. Technical analysts use handles to identify key support and resistance levels, trend lines, and patterns in futures trading.

Traders often create charts with handles plotted on the vertical axis and time intervals on the horizontal axis. This allows them to visualize and analyze price movements over a specific period. Technical indicators, such as moving averages and oscillators, are then used in combination with handle data to identify potential trading opportunities.

Through technical analysis, handles help traders make informed decisions based on historical price patterns and chart formations. This approach provides a systematic way to evaluate market trends, identify potential reversals, and manage risk.

Common Mistakes in Understanding Handles

While handles may seem straightforward, there are common mistakes traders can make when interpreting them. One mistake is assuming that handles alone provide complete information about a futures contract’s value.

Handles represent the whole-dollar price level, but they do not convey the contract’s detailed value. It is crucial to consider the decimals (points) alongside the handles to accurately understand the contract’s price.

Another mistake is failing to recognize the significance of handle changes. Traders should pay attention to how handles evolve over time and their relationship to points. Ignoring these changes can result in missed opportunities or misconstrued market trends.

Furthermore, traders should be cautious of relying solely on handle values when making trading decisions. A detailed analysis of other market factors, such as volume, open interest, and fundamental news, is necessary for a comprehensive understanding of the market.

Examples of Handles in Futures Trading

To illustrate the concept of handles in futures trading, let’s consider an example. Assume a futures contract for a certain commodity is quoted at 500.75. The handle is 500, and the point is 0.75.

Suppose the contract’s handle increases to 510. This indicates a $10 increase in the contract’s whole-dollar price level. Traders would interpret this as a bullish signal, suggesting a potential upward trend in the market.

On the other hand, if the handle decreases to 490, it signifies a $10 decrease in the contract’s whole-dollar price level. Traders would interpret this as a bearish signal, indicating a potential downward trend in the market.

Strategies for Trading Handles

When it comes to trading handles in futures, several strategies can be effective. Here are a few commonly used approaches:

  1. Handle Breakout Strategy: This strategy involves monitoring the price action around significant handle levels. Traders look for breakouts above or below key handle levels as potential trade entry points.

  2. Handle Reversal Strategy: Traders using this approach focus on identifying handle reversals. If a handle reaches a key resistance or support level and reverses direction, it may indicate a potential shift in market sentiment and an opportunity for profitable trades.

  3. Handle Confirmation Strategy: This strategy involves using handles to confirm signals provided by other technical indicators or price patterns. For example, if a handle breakout aligns with a bullish chart pattern or a positive divergence in an oscillator, it further strengthens the trade signal.

  4. Handle Range Strategy: Traders can also use handles to establish trading ranges and identify potential price consolidation zones. By monitoring the price action within specific handle levels, traders can explore range-bound trading strategies.

It is essential to remember that no strategy guarantees success in futures trading. Traders should research, develop, and test their strategies before implementing them in real trading scenarios.


Handles play a vital role in futures trading by providing traders with key information about price movements and trends. By understanding handles and their relationship with points, traders can make informed decisions and analyze market data effectively.

Through technical analysis, handles serve as important reference points for identifying support and resistance levels, chart patterns, and potential trading opportunities. However, it is crucial to supplement handle analysis with a comprehensive evaluation of other market factors to make well-rounded trading decisions.

Traders should be cautious of common mistakes, such as overlooking handle changes or relying solely on handle values. By avoiding these pitfalls and employing effective trading strategies, traders can maximize their potential for success in futures trading.