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Eagle 1 lands at the Merc

Executives at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange have pulled off what could turn out to be the most important coup in the institution's recent history. It's not the launch of their IPO in December, although that must count as a great success in itself given both the sheer effort of transforming from a mutual to a public company as well as going public in the toughest new issue market for decades.

What they ought to be congratulating themselves for is the introduction at the end of January of Eagle I. It's a new feature on the Merc's Globex electronic trading system that enables complex strategies in its benchmark Eurodollar product to be traded electronically for the first time.

"Globex is a great trading system, and has wonderful capability for products that trade on a spot basis such as currencies or our e-mini stock index contracts," says the Merc's CEO, Jim McNulty. "It's a different story for interest-rate products, where you can be looking at trading spreads varying from 90 days to 10 years."

If the system works and catches on, traders worldwide will be able to work for 23 hours a day the kind of strategies that up until now they could only get done in the pits in Chicago during normal trading hours.

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