How to Calculate Price Moves When Trading Commodities

When trading commodities we calculate their price moves using a measurement called ticks. A tick is, therefore, the smallest possible price change for any commodity-based instrument and the size of a tick will be unique to each instrument in question.

For example, if an ounce of gold is trading at $1,700.00 and moves to $1,700.01, we say the market moved one tick. If a barrel of crude oil is trading at $90.05 and moves to $90.06, again we say it moved one tick. Therefore for these markets, a one tick movement simply refers to a one cent movement in price.

However, other instruments do not move in 1c movements. For example, soft commodities such as wheat, corn and soybeans all move in 25c increments. So let’s say wheat moved from $690.50 per (100) bushel to $690.75 we say it has moved 1 tick. If soybeans moved from 1541.50 to 1542.00, we say it moved two ticks and so on.

Commodities -Ticks

Below we see a table of the most regularly traded commodities. The increment refers to how each commodity moves i.e. the movement of a tick. It is also useful to know what it is we are buying or selling, be it barrels of oil, ounces of silver, 100 bushel of wheat or gallons of gasoline and so on.

CurrencyIncrement (ticks)Units
Crude OilUSD0.01Barrell
GoldUSD0.01Troy Oz
SilverUSD0.001Troy Oz
PlatinumUSD0.10Troy Oz
CornUSD0.25Bushels (100)
SoybeansUSD0.25Bushels (100)
WheatUSD0.25Bushels (100)
Natural GasUSD0.001mmBtu*
Heating OilUSD0.0001Gallons
GasolineUSD0.0001Gallons
Coffee CUSD0.05lbs (100)
Sugar no.11USD0.01lbs (100)
Coffee no.2USD0.01lbs (100)
Brent OilUSD0.01Barrell
PaladiumUSD0.05Troy Oz
CopperUSD0.0005lbs (100)

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*mmBtu = one million British Thermal Units

Calculating the value of 1 Tick Movement

The most important thing to realize when calculating the prices of commodities is that all commodities are priced in US Dollars. So to calculate the value of a tick move we simply multiply our position size by one tick. So let’s take crude oil as an example. If we buy 100 barrels of crude oil and the price per barrel rises by $0.01 then our position profits by $1.00 (100 * 0.01). If we buy 500 barrels of crude oil that means every time the price rises by $0.01 we make $5.00. Therefore the size of our position dictates the monetary value for each tick move.

So the final calculation we must consider is if we have an account in a currency denomination other than US Dollars. So let’s say we short sell 200 ounces of gold and the price falls from $1,710.60 to $1710.10. This means the price of gold went in our favor by 50c US.

We sold 200 ounces so 200 * 0.50 equals $100. This $100 profit will be converted to the currency of our account. So if we have a euro account and the current EURUSD exchange rate is 1.3200, then we will see a profit of €75.76 in our profit and loss box for that trade.

$1,710.60 – $1,710.10: 50c ($) profit per ounce we sold

Amount: 200 ounces = $100 @ 1.32 exchange rate = €75.76

Our broker will do this calculation for us but it is still important to understand how the figure was calculated.