Protest fails to halt IPE's switch to electronic trading

Protest fails to halt IPE's switch to electronic trading

London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) is moving ahead with plans to introduce electronic trading despite a walk-out this week by more than 100 traders who see the move as a threat to their jobs.

The strike was in protest at proposals - discussed at an IPE board meeting yesterday - to cut the number of hours of open outcry trading in a bid to promote take-up of electronic trading.

Jeff Sprecher, chairman of US online commodities exchange IntercontinentalExchange - IPE's parent company - says an increasing number of customers wish to trade on the IPE's electronic market.

In a board statement, Sprecher says: "The electronic futures marketplace is increasingly competitive and without positive action to encourage electronic trading in the IPE's markets, ground could be lost and an opportunity missed."

The IPE wants to amend open outcry hours and extend the period of electronic-only trading. According to a report by the Financial Times, the IPE wants to open outcry trading at 2pm instead of 10am, with the close unchanged at 7.30pm. Electronic trading would start at midnight instead of 2am, with the close remaining at 10pm.

The board did however give traders a guarantee that a minimum number of hours trading on the open-outcry market for Brent Crude and Gas Oil futures would be kept for "a number of years".

IPE is one of the few remaining exchanges to still operate the open outcry system.

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