Liquidations in futures trading refer to the forced closure or unwinding of a trader's open futures position due to insufficient margin or collateral to cover potential losses.
Liquidations in futures trading happen for several reasons:
  1. 1.
    Margin requirements: When trading futures, traders are required to deposit a certain amount of money, called margin, as collateral to enter into a contract. This margin acts as a safety buffer to ensure that both counterparties can meet their obligations in the event of adverse market movements. The margin consists of two components: the initial margin and the maintenance margin. The initial margin is the amount required to open a futures position, while the maintenance margin is the minimum amount of equity that must be maintained in the account to keep the position open.
  2. 2.
    Market volatility: Unexpected price movements or increased market volatility can cause the value of a futures position to decrease rapidly. If the account balance falls below the maintenance margin, the trader will receive a margin call, requiring them to either deposit additional funds or close their positions to meet the margin requirements. Failure to do so may lead to liquidation, wherein the broker forcibly closes the trader's open positions to protect against further losses.
  3. 3.
    Leverage: Futures trading involves leverage, which amplifies both profits and losses. While leverage allows traders to control larger positions with a smaller amount of capital, it also increases the risk of liquidation. A highly leveraged position can quickly lead to significant losses if the market moves against the trader, causing their account balance to fall below the maintenance margin level.
In summary, liquidations in futures trading occur when traders fail to maintain the required margin levels due to market volatility and leverage.