What is COMEX?

The COMEX is a global epi-center for trading metals futures and options, with a history that underlines its prominence in the global financial markets. It has been a key player in the commodities market for over a century and holds a crucial position. This article aims to demystify COMEX and illustrate its importance in metals trading.

What Is COMEX? Definition, History, and Metals Trade

The Commodity Exchange, Inc., commonly known as COMEX, is a New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), a division of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group (CME Group). It facilitates futures and options trading, primarily in metals like gold, silver, copper, and aluminum.

Established in 1933, COMEX emerged from the merger of four smaller exchanges based in New York: the National Metal Exchange, the Rubber Exchange of New York, the National Raw Silk Exchange, and the New York Hide Exchange. The idea behind the merger was to create an exchange with sufficient scale to compete with the dominant Chicago exchanges.

The main role of COMEX is to provide a venue where buyers and sellers can trade futures and options contracts to deliver metals. These contracts are legal agreements to buy or sell a specific quantity of a particular metal at a predetermined price at a specific future date.

Understanding COMEX

COMEX operates as a marketplace for trading futures and options contracts. These contracts enable producers, buyers, and sellers of metals to manage their price risk by locking prices for future delivery. Financial speculators, such as hedge funds and individual traders, also participate in the market to profit from changes in metal prices.

COMEX provides transparency, as all trades occur on an open, regulated exchange where prices are determined by supply and demand. Traders can access real-time price information, which helps maintain fair and competitive market conditions. Additionally, COMEX guarantees each contract, reducing the risk of default for market participants.

Contracts traded on COMEX include futures and options on gold, silver, copper, and aluminum. The two most popular contracts are the gold and silver futures contracts, each representing 100 troy ounces of the respective metal. Each contract has a standard set of specifications, including the contract size, delivery date, and minimum price increment.

How Much Gold Is Traded on the COMEX?

COMEX is one of the largest and most active gold futures trading venues globally. The volume of gold traded on COMEX is staggering. For instance, in 2020, the daily trading volume for gold futures contracts averaged around 300,000 contracts per day, representing approximately 30 million ounces of gold.

However, it’s essential to note that physical delivery does not settle most COMEX gold futures contracts. Instead, most contracts are “offset” before the delivery date, meaning that traders sell their contracts or roll them over into the next delivery month. The physical delivery of gold on COMEX represents a small fraction of the total trading volume, typically less than 1%.


COMEX offers a wide array of futures and options products based on various precious and base metals. These products allow market participants to gain exposure to price movements in these metals, manage their price risks, and potentially profit from price changes.

For precious metals, the primary products are gold, silver, and platinum futures and options contracts. These contracts are popular among financial institutions, hedge funds, producers, and individual investors.

For base metals, the main products are copper and aluminum futures and options contracts. These contracts are used mainly by industrial companies, such as mining companies and manufacturers, to hedge their exposure to price changes in these metals.

Moreover, COMEX offers a range of E-mini and E-micro futures contracts, which are smaller-sized contracts that provide more accessible and cost-effective ways for individual investors and small businesses to participate in the metals futures markets.

In conclusion, COMEX plays a pivotal role in global metals trading. Its transparent and liquid marketplace provides crucial price discovery and risk management functions for producers, consumers, and investors in the metals industry, whether you’re a large corporation or a small investor, understanding how COMEX works can help you make informed decisions about investing and managing risk in the metals markets.

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