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Some 2.29bn contracts changed hands, a mere 1.3% shy of the same record levels as May 2010. All of the world’s top eight exchanges reported increased trading levels. The upturn in activity also occurred across all continents.
Brisk trading in the US
March was the US market’s second biggest month, with 732m contracts traded, against 740m in May 2010.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange had its third consecutive month of growth, swelling 37% from February to reach 184m contracts, its highest level since May 2010.
March was also the second most active month for the Chicago Board Options Exchange, with 107m contracts changing hands. In May 2010 it reached 130m.
The Chicago Board of Trade even surpassed last May’s volumes to reach 96.9m, its second highest volume since February 2008. Only November’s 99.9m total was higher. Before February 2008, CBoT’s volumes exceeded the 100m mark four times.
Europe rides the crest of the wave
The European exchanges also reported brisk activity for March, with 378m contracts changing hands – a total only exceeded by the freak volumes of September and October 2008 and May 2010.
Eurex achieved its best month since the Flash Crash with 199m contracts, but that was 22% below May 2010’s haul.
Early indications are that the tide may already be starting to turn in April, however, with Eurex reporting a drop in volumes to 145m contracts.
Jumping from seventh most active exchange globally to fifth in one month was NYSE Liffe Europe. Trading increased 24% from February to reach 109.7m in March, again the highest level apart from May 2010.
ICE Futures Europe also recorded its highest volumes in the past 12 months, following three months of steady growth after December’s low of 16.6m to March’s 24.3m high.
March was also the best month on record for the fourth most active exchange in Europe, London Metal Exchange. A 19% increase from the previous month pushed volume to a new high of 12.7m contracts.
Asia and the emerging markets forge ahead
Asia had its second highest month on record, even exceeding May 2010’s volumes. In November the region surpassed the 1bn mark for the first time. March came close once again, with 987m contracts.
For a change, this cannot just be explained by looking at the monster volumes clocked up by the Korea Exchange.
The exchange certainly hit a four month high in March with 379m contracts traded, up 22% from the previous month. March was only its third highest month, however, and did not reach the levels of October and November 2010. KRX’s peak remains 439m contracts in November.
The National Stock Exchange of India had its best month yet, increasing 14% from February to 188m contracts in March. Nevertheless, this was not enough to prevent it dropping into third place in the global exchange rankings, having held on to second place for the previous three months. Eurex was second.
The devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11 seems to have increased trading on the Japanese exchanges, or at least not held it back, resulting in their most active ever month of trading, with 37.3m contracts. This beat longstanding peaks of 31.3m contracts in October 2008 and 29m in August 2007.
Four of the country’s five exchanges increased their volumes from February, though the record is due to the Osaka Securities Exchange, which more than doubled its trading volume, from 14.6m contracts in February to a record 29.3m in March.
Tokyo Stock Exchange also came close to doubling in volume, from 1.7m contracts in February to 3.4m in March.
March was also a record month for Russian Trading System Stock Exchange, with 82.6m contracts changing hands, up 18% from February’s levels.
BM&F Bovespa Equity Options did not benefit from March’s surge in trading, losing 7% of its volume from February to 72.4m contracts. BM&F Bovespa Futures fared better, with a 16% increase in activity to 64.9m contracts.
Among the world’s top contracts, MCX Stock Exchange’s USD/INR Future elbowed its way back into second position with 84.7m contracts, after increasing trading by 43% on February’s slump. This was its highest volume since January 2010.
The Korea Exchange’s Kospi 200 Option also reached its highest trading month since November’s surge, with volume up 22% since February.
One particularly noteworthy increase was for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s E-Mini S&P 500 Future, which bounced up 66% from February’s levels to a nine month high of 60.5m contracts. On the same exchange, Eurodollar Futures also swelled by 23% to 62.9m. This contract has not exceeded the 60m mark since June 2008, before which it frequently exceeded this total.
National Stock Exchange of India’s Total NSE Index Options, which FOi’s database aggregates, was the only top five contract to experience a dip in volumes over the month, but only by 2% to 73.5m. On the same exchange the US Dollar Future fared better, increasing 35% over the month to 61m contracts.
March’s brisk trading has also resulted in only two of the top 25 global contracts recording year to date drops in volume.
The fifth most active contract, National Stock Exchange of India’s US Dollar Future, lost 4% of its volume for first quarter trading this year when compared to the same period in 2010. Largely this is because MCX SX has hoovered up more of the volume.
Much further down the table is the second dip in volumes, with the 22nd placed SPX S&P 500 Option at Chicago Board Options Exchange losing 7% of its year to date volume compared with the same period last year.
The Kospi 200 Option has been 23% more active in the first quarter of 2011 than a year ago, and MCX SX’s USD/INR Future 18% more.
The increasing popularity of National Stock Exchange of India’s index options has swelled volumes so far this year by 128% from the same period last year.
Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange’s Cotton No 1 Future also had a headline-grabbing increase, up 427% in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the same period last year.
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