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Trading Ring That Survived Two World Wars May Succumb to a Virus

  • London Metal Exchange plans to keep Ring closed into next year
  • Ring dealers have seen sharp volume drop, rethinking staffing
The trading floor of the open outcry pit at the London Metal Exchange in September 2019.
The trading floor of the open outcry pit at the London Metal Exchange in September 2019.Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg
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Since the 1800s, the London Metal Exchange’s iconic trading floor endured world wars, scandals, ruinous defaults and the onrush of algorithmic trading that’s made other open-outcry markets obsolete. Yet after all that, it may not survive Covid-19.

With coronavirus cases surging in the U.K. capital, the LME laid out proposals Monday to keep its floor, known as “the Ring,” closed until at least early 2021. It’s also considering technical tweaks that could stoke the debate about whether the usually raucous space, which underpins $50 billion worth of metals trades each day, should reopen at all.