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Forward Contracts

An over-the-counter obligation to buy or sell a financial instrument or to make a payment at some point in the future, the details of which were settled privately between the two counterparties. Forward contracts generally are arranged to have zero mark-to-market value at inception, although they may be off-market. Examples include forward foreign exchange contracts in which one party is obligated to buy foreign exchange from another party at a fixed rate for delivery on a pre-set date. Off-market forward contracts are used often in structured combinations, with the value on the forward contract offsetting the value of the other instrument(s).