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Hedge instruments , of which futures contracts are part, are mostly used by the players in the market to lock in margins on physical contracts. And of course they are used in a big way purely for "paper trading", i.e. the contract parties have never the intention to actually supply or take delivery of the goods. The interesting thing you could deduct from futures is perhaps the trend of the prices that the market players believe will happen.
Just to give you indication of "paper trading":
crude consumption globally per day is in order of 75 million barrels, but on the 2 crude exchanges ( IPE in London and MERC in NYork ) daily volume of crude contracts can easily reach total of 200 million barrels.
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