CME set to extend hours for pit grain trading

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The CME Group will ask federal regulators on Thursday to approve a plan to increase hours for its open-outcry grain trading at its Chicago Board of Trade grain futures, grain traders told Reuters following their private meeting with CME officials on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, CME's Executive Chairman Terrence Duffy said at a press conference following the CME's annual meeting that the CME had no objection to extending pit grain trading if the traders support it.

Traders at the private meeting said the CME plans to keep the pits open until 2 p.m. Chicago time (1900 GMT), to match the new closing time for its electronic markets. Currently, pit grain trading ends at 1:15 p.m. (1815 GMT).

A CME spokesman confirmed the exchange held a meeting to seek trader feedback but would not comment on CME's plans.

CME also intends to start pit trading in grains at 7:20 a.m. Chicago time (1220 GMT) on the days the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases key market-sensitive reports, the traders said. This would include USDA's monthly world agricultural supply/demand reports and quarterly U.S. grain stocks reports.

Traders said the CME intends to file a notice on Thursday with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission about the expanded pit hours, giving regulators at least 10 business days to review the plan before USDA releases its next monthly supply/demand report on June 12.

"They need to file tomorrow to get 10 days ahead of the next crop report," said one trader who attended the meeting.

USDA releases the monthly and quarterly reports at 7:30 a.m. CDT (1230 GMT), so the earlier open would give pit traders 10 minutes to review the data before the start of trading.

Until this week, electronic and open-outcry trading were closed from 7:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Central, meaning both were shut when USDA issued crop reports.

CME electronic trading for grains expanded this week to a continuous 21-hour cycle. Screen trading currently is open from 5 p.m. Central on Sunday to 2 p.m. Central Monday and repeats that pattern daily to 2 p.m. Friday.

"Earlier today we met with market participants from the floor to talk about the recent changes we made to our trading hours and get their feedback," CME spokesman Damon Leavell said.

CME extended its electronic grain trading hours one week after rival IntercontinentalExchange launched five U.S. grain and oilseed futures contracts that trade electronically on a 22-hour-a-day schedule.

Traders said CME is considering whether to open pit trading at 7:20 a.m. on every business day, but the traders said some trading firms were reluctant to staff their desks for the additional hours on a regular basis.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday said the USDA will seek public input before it considers changing the release times of market-moving reports.

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