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ICE Futures Loses Coal Volumes as CME Wins Broker Clearing

ICE Futures Europe has lost ground in coal trading to CME Group Inc., which has won clearing volume from energy brokers and their clients.

Chicago-based CME’s coal volumes surged to a record 173.2 million metric tons in the fourth quarter from 3.5 million tons a year earlier, according to data from the group sent Jan. 11 by e-mail. ICE Futures’ total volume fell 20 percent to 240 million tons in the same period.

CME is targeting coal business from broker clients as Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange Inc. increases its share in other energy products, including crude oil. CME’s energy volumes averaged 1.3 million contracts in December, down 6 percent from a year earlier. ICE, which agreed to buy NYSE Euronext on Dec. 20 in a stock and cash deal worth $8.2 billion, increased energy volumes by 1.2 percent in the same period, as Brent trading surged 20 percent.

“We work closely with brokers,” Louise Croucher, CME’s director of energy products in London, said Jan. 10 by phone. “We see them as our extended marketing arm. It’s our job to make the traders’ job easier.” Croucher previously covered international coal sales and marketing for Standard Bank Group Ltd. until January 2011.

CME offers a service called straight-through processing, which allows broker clients to send over-the-counter trades concluded on their own trading screens straight to CME for automatic clearing.

‘Natural Progression’

London-based ICE Futures responded Jan. 9, saying it would allow international coal and European natural gas, power and carbon contracts to be reported electronically from broker members to the exchange.

“It means that we now offer straight-through processing for coal and also certain other energy products,” Claire Miller, an ICE Futures spokeswoman in London, said by e-mail on Jan. 11.

The new offer from ICE was welcome, James Davies, head of sales at Trayport Ltd. in London, said today by e-mail. Straight-through processing of trades “stands out as a natural progression of the marketplace as the increase in focus on counterparty risk and timely reporting continue to have a strong place on the agenda of many market participants and regulators.”

Trayport, owned by GFI Group Inc., provides software for brokers and traders.

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