Asked to comment on the apparent board decision, a CME spokesman referred to an earlier comment: "At CME Group, we regularly engage with industry participants to discuss ways to enhance our markets. We will keep our customers and industry participants abreast of any planned changes, but have nothing formal to announce at this time."
LARGE SPECULATORS COULD BENEFIT
Expanded trading hours could give an extra advantage to large, speculative traders who have instant access to USDA data and the available capital to immediately trade on it, said Alan Brugler, president of Brugler Marketing & Management.
Until now, almost all major U.S. agricultural data -- including weekly crop progress reports issued on Monday afternoon, weekly export sales numbers on Thursday morning, and monthly supply-demand reports -- have been released outside of current CBOT trading hours.
An analyst, who declined to be named, said the CME had not intended to expand its trading hours -- until the ICE challenge -- because there was not demand from customers. "The commercial crowd has never really been in favor of that because they would have to put on extra coverage in case something happens.
'I WISH THE MARKET WAS OPEN NOW'
"Also, how many afternoons have we seen any market-moving news that had people saying 'I wish the market was open now'," the analyst said, adding that monthly USDA livestock reports hardly ever affect the grains markets.
CBOT grain futures currently trade electronically on the exchange's Globex platform from 6 p.m. to 7:15 a.m. Central time, while side-by-side trade on Globex and the open-outcry pits runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
CME Group last widened its trading hours in grains in 2009, expanding the early Globex session to 7:15 a.m., from 6 a.m. previously. The CME's New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) already trades nearly around-the-clock.
The weekly U.S. crop progress updates, which are released at 3 p.m. Central time on Mondays between April and November, can often impact the grain markets when CME electronic trade resumes three hours later.
"Especially when we get into (crop) ratings and we are hanging on every percentage change in the ratings on a weekly basis -- I question whether the CME is going to remain closed and let ICE drain off all that volume," said Feltes. (Reporting by K.T. Arasu, Ann Saphir, Julie Ingwersen and Tom Polansek; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)