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Financial derivatives are financial instruments that are linked to a specific financial instrument or indicator or commodity, and through which specific financial risks can be traded in financial markets in their own right. The value of a financial derivative derives from the price of an underlying item, such as an asset or index. Unlike debt instruments, no principal amount is advanced to be repaid and no investment income accrues. Financial derivatives are used for a number of purposes including risk management, hedging, arbitrage between markets, and speculation.
Financial derivatives enable parties to trade specific financial risks (such as interest rate risk, currency, equity and commodity price risk, and credit risk, etc.) to other entities who are more willing, or better suited, to take or manage these risks—typically, but not always, without trading in a primary asset or commodity.