Check Out Hand Signals Traders In The Pits Of The NYMEX Use

hand signals

Photo: Alex Howe for Business Insider

Last week, we introduced you to different hand signals traders use in “the pit” of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to indicate buy and sell orders.For the most part, the traditional face-to-face trading has died out largely because of electronic systems. 

However, it still exists at exchanges such as the CME, CBOE, CBOT and the NYMEX, just to name a few.

The face-to-face system is called open outcry — a form of communication where traders use hand signals to exchange information. 

We think it’s awesome, especially since it can get really loud in the trading pits.  What’s cool is a lot of the signals are standard, while others are proprietary. 

Thanks to the help of Trading Pit History, a website dedicated to preserving hand signals of open outcry trading for historical record, we were able to compile a list of the signals traders use in the New York trading pits at the NYMEX.  

This symbolizes a buy order. When you want to buy something, your palms face toward you.

Here is a sell order. When you want to sell something, your palms face away from you.

For order quantities, touching your index finger to your chin signifies orders in multiples of 1-9.

If you want quantities in multiples of 10, then you touch you index finger to your temple.

If you want quantities in multiples of 100, then you touch you index finger to your temple and then your fist.

This signifies that you want an order in multiples of 1,000.

Four fingers together stands for January.

You middle, ring and pink finger together with your thumb and index finger down represents February.

Your index and middle finger together represents March.

April resembles an L-shape.

Cupping your hand downward signifies the month of May.

To symbolise June you make a fist with you pinky finger up.

Keeping your index, middle and ring finger down with your pinky and thumb up stands for July.

For August, you arch your index finger while your other fingers are down.

Cupping your hand slighly facing upward symbolizes September.

October looks like a downward V-shape.

For November cross your index and middle fingers.

For December, point to the left with your index finger.

This is a put option. Point your thumb down.

This stands for a call option. Use all of your fingers to create a letter C.

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