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Derivatives: Trading volumes on the rise

Brazilian and Mexican derivatives markets gain sophistication.

by Leticia Lozano

Trade in Latin America in options, futures and swaps was almost unheard of a decade ago. Today, though, driven by growing investor confidence and a strong economic performance across the continent, the region’s derivatives markets are developing as never before, led by Brazil and Mexico, as investors look to transfer risk and hedge their exposure to volatility.

Although stable Chile has long had a local currency-denominated, fixed rate yield curve, companies such as Mexican cement producer Cemex and Brazil’s Votorantim Metals are also using derivatives to mitigate risks and lower borrowing costs. Cemex’s mark-to-market derivatives position rose to $430 million in September, compared with $149 million in June.

According to João Lauro Amaral at the Brazilian Mercantile and Futures Exchange (BM&F), the São Paulo exchange has an open interest financial value of $355 billion and an average notional daily volume of $28.5 billion so far in 2005, up from $25.7 billion last year, a world away from the nascent, open outcry derivatives market in 1986. Brazilian banks and other financial institutions make up about 62% of derivatives trading participants, followed by institutional investors with 18% and foreign investors with 11%, according to Amaral.

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