CME trading floor coronavirus reopen is 'complicated'

The coronavirus fallout is threatening the existence of exchange trading floors

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U.S. exchanges with floors of traders elbow-to-elbow were not created with pandemics in mind which is creating challenges for the reopenings of these institutions which closed weeks ago as the coronavirus ripped through the nation.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
CMECME GROUP INC182.32-0.28-0.15%

"Our situation, however, is complicated by the unique nature of open outcry trading in our markets. As anyone who has traded in an open outcry pit can attest, there is no way to effectuate social distancing requirements. Solutions that may be practical for other trading environments are unworkable for our trading floors" said CME Chairman Terry Duffy in his annual meeting remarks shared with FOX Business on Wednesday.

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Open outcry uses verbal and hand signals often accompanied by shouting as traders buy and sell. While electronic trading has replaced much of this system, it still exists.

Duffy noted, if and when the floor reopens, health risks remain.

"I cannot stress enough that we will not be able to guarantee the safety of traders, clerks or other trading personnel that choose to access the trading floor. It will have risk and will continue to have risk until there is a vaccine or some other cure for this disease" he added noting that anyone returning to the floor to trade or visit will need to sign a waiver.

CORONAVIRUS CLOSES CHICAGO MERCANTILE EXCHANGE TRADING FLOOR

CME, based in Chicago, is the world's largest derivatives exchange handling contracts of West Texas Intermediate crude among other highly liquid products. It was the first exchange to proactively close its trading floor "as a precaution to reduce large gatherings that can contribute to the spread of coronavirus in line with the advice of medical professionals" the company said in March, moving all trading to the electronic system.

OIL PRICE SWINGS MANIPULATION? LIKELY NOT, SAYS CFTC

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
CMECME GROUP INC182.32-0.28-0.15%

The CBOE, also based in Chicago, followed suit shortly thereafter.

CORONAVIRUS FORCES NYSE TO CLOSE TRADING FLOOR, GO ELECTRONIC

The New York Stock Exchange, owned by parent Intercontinental Exchange, was the last to close its floor after several employees tested positive for COVID-19.

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ICEINTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE INC.97.62+0.37+0.38%

NYSE YET TO DETERMINE WHEN NY FLOOR WILL REOPEN

On Tuesday, as reported by FOX Business, NYSE President Stacey Cunningham held a call with members of the trading floor community to discuss reopening, although no date was determined as reported by Charlie Gasparino.

AP Photo/Richard Drew

The Big Board, like the CME, has a similar physical layout that puts traders within spitting distance of one and another even though the number of floor firms continues to decline.

STATE-BY-STATE CORONAVIRUS REOPENINGS

Illinois Gov. Pritzer and New York Governor Cuomo are among the government leaders crafting plans to reopen local economies yet firm details remain fluid for both states and key business hubs including Chicago and Manhattan.

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