Nation: Playing with the Futures

Straddles, hedges, shorts, longs. To most people, the argot of commodities trading is about as exciting and intelligible as the fine print in a Eurobond offering. Not, however, to the traders and speculators who wheel and deal on the floors of the commodity exchanges of the Midwest, where most of the nation's grain trading takes place. For the high rollers in the mysterious world of wheat and corn futures, soybean stop orders and daily limit moves, commodities are the stuff of fast fortunes.

For two days last week, of course, no one made or lost anything in grain futures trading. By temporarily...

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