WINNIPEG – A century of shouting, colourful coats, and specialized hand signals comes to an end Friday at the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange, as computers take over the job of matching buy and sell orders from floor traders.
On Monday, Winnipeg will be the first “open outcry” commodity futures exchange in North America to become fully electronic. Computer trading is more efficient and will help to boost volumes and liquidity, the exchange says.
But many traders say they’ll miss the bustle and noise of the trading pit. Exchange vice president William Hill knows the change will be tough for some people.
“There’s a lot of history here,” he said. “And there’s a lot of nostalgia and people have been associated with this marketplace for a long time. As with any change it takes some time for people to adjust.”
The Winnipeg Commodity Exchange (WCE) began 117 years ago as a cash grain marketplace. Earlier this year, it celebrated a hundred years of futures trading. It remains the only commodity futures exchange in Canada.
The WCE trades futures and options contracts on canola, flaxseed, feed wheat and western barley. As of Monday, all WCE contracts will be listed for trade on e-cbot, the electronic trading platform run by the Chicago Board of Trade.
Ironically, the Chicago Board of Trade still has its trading floor, although many say it’s just a matter of time until it too goes all-electronic. Most commodity trading in Europe, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong is already fully computerized.
Floor trading is also a thing of the past in many stock exchanges. The Toronto Stock Exchange closed its trading floor in 1997. London’s stock exchange abandoned open outcry trading in 1998. And there has never been a trading floor on the Nasdaq market, which was launched in 1971 as the world’s first electronic stock market.
The New York Stock Exchange, however, still has its trading floor and shows no sign of wanting to give that up.
Source: CBC News