Chicago Mercantile Exchange Enhances Handheld Trading

A software upgrade lets users of the exchange's Galax-C handheld devices trade options on futures for any options contracts currently listed on the exchange's electronic trading platform.

Thanks to a software upgrade announced Tuesday, traders using the Chicago Mercantile Exchanges Galax-C handheld trading devices now can trade options on futures for any options contracts currently listed on CME Globex, the exchanges electronic trading platform.

Handheld trading was launched at the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) in 1999, and by January 2004, about 31,000 contracts per day were being traded wirelessly. That number increased to 120,000 contracts per day in February 2005, nearly 5 percent of the CME Globex volume. CME offers futures and options on futures primarily in four product areas: interest rates, stock indexes, foreign exchange and commodities.

"Our ability to introduce this upgraded options-trading functionality to our handhelds is an important step to increasing the electronic liquidity of options trading at CME," said James Krause, the exchanges CIO and managing director.

"On the futures side, we have established a successful track record of using our handhelds to merge trading between the electronic environment and our trading floors. For example, in the CME Eurodollar futures market, there are more than 200 handhelds in use helping to grow our electronic volume from 300,000 in January 2004 to more than 1.8 million in February 2005."

Pit trading, which does not take place on the automated system, accounts for an average of about 700,000 contracts per day. Trading of options is growing rapidly, and the CME is encouraging growth of the electronic portion.

"I dont think that were going to see a decrease in pit volume in options, but we plan to increase the electronic volume as a driver of overall growth," said Allan Schoenberg, associate director of corporate communications at the CME.

About 400 traders are using the CME Galax-C devices, which are customized iPaqs supplied by Hewlett-Packard Co., on the trading floor. Current futures traders will not be required to change the way they trade using the devices, but they will have the option to use some of the new functionality if desired.

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