Delivery Month

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Definition of 'Delivery Month'

For futures contracts specifying physical delivery, the delivery month is the month in which the seller must deliver, and the buyer must accept and pay for, the underlying. For contracts specifying cash settlement, the delivery month is the month of a final mark-to-market. The exact dates of acceptable delivery vary considerably and will be specified by the exchange in the contract specifications.

For most futures contracts, at any given time, one contract will typically be traded much more actively than others. This is called variously the front month or the top step contract.

Financial contracts (such as bonds, short term interest rates, foreign exchange and stock indexes) tend to expire quarterly, in March (H), June (M), September (U) and December (Z).

This table lists the conventional letter codes used in tickers to specify delivery month:

Month Code
F - January
G - February
H - March
J - April
K - May
M - June
N - July
Q - August
U - September
V - October
X - November
Z - December

To name a specific contract in a financial futures market, the month code will follow the contract code, and in turn be followed by the year. For example, ESM1 is the June 2011 E-mini S&P500 stock index future contract. ES denotes E-mini S&P500 stock index future, M corresponds to the June delivery month, and 1 refers to 2011.

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