Well I guess in the strict sense of "infinite," then nothing man-made is infinite, as there aren't "infinite" number of people in existence. But, as the OP asks, "Is there an infinite number of contracts per futures instrument," what I'm saying is that all that is required is a buyer and a seller...... to which the answer is: As many buyers as sellers.
This is one of those semantical discussions that often occur on trading forums, such as whether or not one is actually predicting vs. reacting, or buy low sell high.
I think the OP was asking if there are a set number of contracts that can be traded? As in does the S&P allow more than 10 million contracts to be traded on a given day for example. And my answer is: As long as there exists a buyer and a seller willing to transact at a given price, then they can trade.
So two people could sit at the same two prices and trade a million contracts at all day if they desired.
The next day, two different people could sit on those same two prices and trade 100 million lots there if they wanted. There is no SET amount. If an INFINITE amount of aliens from every corner of the galaxy all of a sudden decided they wanted to trade the S&P, they could, as all that is required is a buyer and a seller.
OBVIOUSLY they would need proper margin to place a trade. And they would also need a broker, computer, etc.
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That's not what the OP is asking. He is asking, "are futures like stocks, in that there are a finite number of shares available for the public to purchase?" and Fat Tails has correctly answered, "no." There are an infinite number of contracts which can be floated, and what is required is margin. Contracts are "written," unlike shares, which are "issued."
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