Oil trading boom drives ICE commodity records

Oil trading boom drives ICE commodity records

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Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) hit a single day open interest record in its commodity markets on Wednesday, as the trading frenzy at the start of this week spilled over into the energy sector.

ICE recorded open interest of 51.1 million contracts in commodity derivatives, 10% higher than at the start of the year. That breached highs set on the previous day and on February 22 this year. The last record level was in October 2021, when open interest stood at 50.55 million lots.

The US exchange group reported increased activity in its oil options business, which hit a record 567,731 lots on Wednesday.

Of that total, 513,567 contracts were Brent options, beating the record set on March 9 2020 as the market reacted to the Covid pandemic. Open interest across both futures and options on Brent was up 28% over the period to nearly 5 million contracts, ICE said.

“The increase in trading activity across ICE’s markets reflects the breadth of ICE’s commodity benchmarks, with customers utilising our liquidity and transparency to hedge their risk,” Jeff Barbuto, global head of oil markets at ICE said in a statement. “The resilience of ICE Brent through the shocks the market witnessed last year, and its outperformance this year versus other oil benchmarks, shows how the market depends on its ability to reflect global fundamentals.”

The exchange’s Gasoil contracts have seen a 19% jump in open interest since the start of the year, with 308,400 tons of diesel for delivery to North-West Europe at the last expiry date, its highest level since November 2021, the Atlanta-based exchange said.

ICE's natural gas markets in the US and Europe also benefited from an increase in contracts held, with open interest up 9% since the start of 2023, at 30.4 million lots.

Rival European Energy Exchange on Thursday announced it had won a bidding war to purchase a majority interest in GET Baltic, the Finnish and Baltic natural gas exchange operator. The Leipzig-based exchange group will pay €6.5 million (£5.7m) for a 66% shareholding in the company, in a deal to be confirmed at the owner Amber Grid’s shareholder meeting on April 7.

The recovery in commodities trading reverses a trend of lower volumes last year as volatility from the Russian invasion of Ukraine affected margin requirements and ultimately harmed liquidity across commodity markets.

Research published by the World Federation of Exchanges on Friday showed that commodity derivatives was the only segment that had a slump in year-on-year volumes in 2022, with a 15% decline to 8.8 billion lots across exchanges. The highest deficit was recorded for Europe, Middle East and Africa exchanges, which saw a 45% drop in volume, the data said.

ICE reported an overall single day trading volume record on Monday, as interest rate and financial contracts benefitted from efforts to come to terms with the failure of US firms Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank over the weekend.

US rival CME Group had a daily trading record on the same day, citing risk management led activity.

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