Futures: Dare You Defy The Odds?

Rick Powers, a New London (Conn.) financial planner specializing in charitable giving, gave two adult daughters some unusual birthday presents. The value of one gift depended on whether India tightened up on cotton exports; the other on whether Japanese smelters reduced their copper production: Both of them were futures contracts. His 27-year-old daughter, Jennifer Ligeti, received a December cotton contract. Daughter Kristin Harkness, 31, got copper futures. The investments paid off. Before fees, Ligeti's contract generated a tidy $1,100 profit from a measly 2.2 cents rise in cotton. Her sister's made $1,250 on a 5.3% copper-price hike.

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