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The buyer of a contract is said to be long position holder, and the selling party is said to be short position holder.
The first futures contracts were negotiated for agricultural commodities, and later futures contracts were negotiated for natural resources such as oil.
The predetermined price the parties agree to buy and sell the asset for is known as the forward price.
The specified time in the future -- which is when delivery and payment occur -- is known as the delivery date.
In this vein, the futures exchange requires both parties to put up initial cash, or a performance bond, known as the margin.
Margins, sometimes set as a percentage of the value of the futures contract, must be maintained throughout the life of the contract to guarantee the agreement, as over this time the price of the contract can vary as a function of supply and demand, causing one side of the exchange to lose money at the expense of the other.