CME trading floor's coronavirus shutdown to last at least 3 more weeks

CME's trading pits make reopening 'complicated'

The New York Stock Exchange reopened its trading floor on Tuesday, but Chicago’s legendary trading pits will remain closed for at least the next several weeks.

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Exchange operator CME Group will keep its trading floor closed for at least three weeks after Illinois’ stay-at-home order, which is scheduled to expire on May 29, is lifted. The exchange closed its trading floor at the end of business on March 13.

CME Group’s situation is “complicated by the unique nature of open outcry trading in our markets,” CEO Terry Duffy said at the company’s annual meeting earlier this month.

CORONAVIRUS-SHUTTERED TRADING FLOORS REOPEN, MAKING COMPLEX TRANSACTIONS EASIER

“As anyone who has traded in an open outcry pit can attest, there is no way to effectuate social distancing requirements,” he added. “Solutions that may be practical for other trading environments are unworkable for our trading floors.”

Any reopening of the trading floor will be in a phased manner, starting with the Eurodollar options pit. Traders returning to the pits will be asked to take precautionary measures and to consult their doctors.

Meanwhile, Cboe Global Markets, which closed its trading floor on March 16, will be “operationally ready” to reopen next month, according to a spokesperson.

When and how the trading floor is reopened will be dictated by guidelines from public health agencies and whether staff can be brought back safely.

Precautionary measures being considered are screening workers before entering the trading floor, requiring the use of masks, deep cleaning of the trading pits and reconfiguring the layout to ensure social distancing.

Traders returned to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for the first time in two months on Tuesday under strict precautionary measures.

Those entering the trading floor had to avoid using public transportation, were subject to temperature checks, required to wear masks and must adhere to social distancing guidelines and were divided by Plexiglas. Traders were also required to sign a waiver limiting the exchange’s COVID-19 liability.

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The NYSE’s trading floor wasn’t the first to reopen from COVID-19 induced lockdowns. Both the San Francisco-based Arca and Chicago-based BOX Options reopened their trading floors on May 5, providing some relief for institutional investors who were unable to execute complex hedging strategies due to the data leakage that occurred as a result of screen-based trading.