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Information Management Network

 
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Au Revoir Globex

Last year MATIF chairman Gerard Pfauwadel woke up a sleepy conference call on inter-exchange linkages with the following comment: "I have detected 39 public announcements of linkages, but in fact the reality is that currently there are only two that can be identified as truly successful." One was the 10-year pact betwixt the CME and SIMEX. And the other was GLOBEX, the after-hours electronic market developed by Reuters for the CME, of which MATIF was the lone other partner.

Last month Pfauwadel's count of successful links dropped to one, after he himself declared that MATIF would not renew its participation in May 1998. GLOBEX, which reportedly cost $100 million for development, has not lived up to the original expectation that it would attract a multi-exchange following. "As long as the mainstream is trading open outcry, there is absolutely no reason to move dramatically to a global electronic network," Pfauwadel said as he pulled out. Nonetheless, MATIF will join with the Paris Bourse's NSC electronic system for off-hours use.


The CBOT's Inflation Trade

Like most other business organizations, the Chicago Board of Trade customarily rails at perceived interference by the federal government, usually regulators who sit on new contract applications. Last month, however, the CBOT should have got on its knees and thanked Washington for delivering the chance to invent what could be one of the best new contracts in years. Just days after the U.S. Treasury's unveiling of plans for its new 10-year inflation-indexed Treasury bond, the CBOT unfurled a line of corresponding futures and options contracts designed to give investors a new kind of inflation trade. According to CBOT second vice chairman Richard Sandor, these contracts are tantamount to a "synthetic CPI" that will allow traders to take positions on this key economic variable for the first time in history with "real inflation-proof yields."

"Their chief merit from a trading point of view is that they will allow cash market participants to hedge effectively against volatility in U.S. long-term real returns," adds CBOT president Pat Arbor. After approval by the CFTC, futures contracts will trade in multiples of 1/32 point per 100 points, and par will be on the basis of 100 points. Options will trade in 1/64 point per 100 points. Both contracts will trade on the standard quarterly expiration (March, June, September, December).


Swedes Try Again

Nobody can fault the Stockholm-based OM Gruppen AB for a want of ambition, or technical expertise in exchange technology, which is embedded in client locations as far flung as Hong Kong and New York. The Group has also been aggressive in applying automated trading knowledge to its own OMLX (London Securities & Derivatives Exchange). Last month it announced that it would set up a bourse there for wood pulp because the pace of "price fluctuations have become more drastic," said a spokesman. Whether there is a big enough market for PULPEX remains to be seen. Last year OM Gruppen launched three new equity volatility futures contracts on the OMLX, based on FTSE 100, the DAX and a Swedish benchmark, respectively. Reportedly these have been quite slow to catch on.


Dow Jones Wakes Up

In the listed derivatives equity index game, the biggest and oldest name in stock market indicators has been curiously absent until last month. Getting over its decade-long aversion to the futures market, Dow Jones Co. finally last month got a toehold in a market dominated by the benchmarks of the Financial Times and Morgan Stanley when both the CME and the Pacific Stock Exchange began trading the Dow Jones Taiwan Index.

Dow Jones began computing various global indices several years ago, after it was clearly too embarrassing to be seen quoting rival Financial Times as a descriptor of market moves. "As a global publisher of business information we needed our own index, if for no other reason than to report financial news from a global perspective," says index developer John Prestbro. Dow Jones unveiled its first U.S.-industry-specific indicators in 1988, and in January 1993 went public with a capitalization-weighted global index comprising 29 different countries, each designed to capture about 80 percent of investable market capitalization.

The new Dow Jones Taiwan index had competition from the very first trading day, when the Singapore International Monetary Exchange began trading derivatives on a new Morgan Stanley Taiwan Index. In the subsequent weeks, it looked as if the volume was greater in Singapore. Dow Jones may find that winning the futures index wars is a tougher game than it originally thought.

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