CME Group to reduce nearly non-stop grain trading cycle

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CME Group said on Tuesday it will reduce the nearly non-stop trading cycle for its U.S. grain and oilseed markets and consider halting trading for major agricultural reports if other exchanges did the same.

IntercontinentalExchange, which forced CME to expand its trading hours by launching rival grain contracts last year, said it would keep its markets open for crop reports.

CME, which owns the Chicago Board of Trade, said it had not yet determined what the new trading hours will be.

The exchange operator expanded electronic trading hours to 21 hours a day from 17 hours a day in May to fend off competition from rival ICE. The increased hours kept markets open for the first time during the release of key monthly reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which often cause sharp swings in prices.

Traders formerly had two hours to analyze data in the reports before trading resumed, and some have called on CME to pause trading so they can digest data.

"CME Group understands the frustration of many of our customers, and we are open to considering a market pause allowing participants to evaluate the data if all exchanges and trading venues would do the same," CME wrote in a letter to customers.

CME launched a survey last week asking customers whether trading hours should be reduced and decided to reduce hours before the survey period ends on Thursday.

Traders had complained the longer cycle spread out volume, reducing liquidity and increasing volatility.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will need to approve a change in trading hours.

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