The Newest Crapshoot

Thomas Hicks has abandoned his commercial photography business in Portland, Ore., to devote himself to trading them. Webb Williams, Exxon Corp.'s trust fund manager, spends an increasing portion of his time investing in them for his company. So does Charles Stevenson, who operates his own New York-based money management firm. Venturesome traders across the U.S. are turning an esoteric-sounding new way of investing money into one of the hottest and fastest-growing ways to cash in on the bull market: stock index futures contracts. They are akin to commodities contracts, but on nothing so...

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