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Foreign Exchange

FX market volumes: Pump up the volume

A wry smile crossed my face this week following the release of a wealth of data illustrating the extent to which the FX market is booming.

Last week, I listened as a leading financial market participant explained that FX can, by nature, be cyclical and how it is usual for volumes to decrease as the market’s Billy Big Dogs head off on their summer holidays.

I know that the weather has been bad in England, but that alone can’t explain why the market hasn’t wound down yet, at least on most platforms. Of course, there have been well-reported jitters in other markets and FX appears to have been the beneficiary. This week, Icap reported that last Friday was a record day on its EBS platform. The company saw $306.8 billion change hands, substantially beating the previous record of $269.9 billion set in March 2007. Elsewhere, the newly enlarged CME Group, as it is now known following its takeover of old rival Chicago Board of Trade, reported its strongest non-roll month ever in FX. Options and futures worth more than a notional $77 billion traded each day on the exchange. Put another way, this was a staggering increase of 69% on the same month in July 2006; reflecting what was going on in the broader market, the strongest growth came in the yen, Swiss franc and sterling.

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