If you’re new to futures markets, or only look at a few futures markets, you may find yourself a bit
confused by the meaning of things like ZCZ3, or ZWH3. Those symbols are called Futures Contract Codes.
Each of these codes is a unique identifier and represent the commodity being traded, the delivery
month of the contract, and the year of the contract.
Similar to stocks, the first part of the contract code is essentially the ticker symbol. This symbol will be the same for each commodity cross delivery months and years and is the unique identifier that refers to the commodity in question.
Below are a few common examples:
Following the commodity traded is always the delivery month. The delivery month specifies the month
of delivery or settlement for the contract. Below is the full list of each delivery month for futures
contracts. As you will see, the month codes go in rough alphabetic order, but bounce around and do not
follow a specific pattern.
The final part of futures contract codes is the year. Officially, this is a single digit the represents the year.
As an example, 2023 would be “3.” You will occasionally see sources that use two digits though since
only allowing one forces an overlapping name every ten years – ZCZ3, as an example, could mean
December 2023 corn, or it could mean December 2013 corn.