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CME and Icap: No diving – shallow liquidity

Figures from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Icap show that volumes picked up in February, but that liquidity remains very shallow when compared with most of 2008. The CME says its FX volume averaged 512,000 contracts a day, equivalent in notional terms to $64 billion. This was an 11% increase on January, but a drop of 10% on February 2008. Meanwhile, Icap has reported that the average daily turnover on EBS rose 3% in February from January to $153.7 billion. In contrast, the average daily volume for the 12 months to the end of February 2009 was $201.9 billion.

While the general decline in volume is no doubt disappointing for both the CME and Icap, it is unlikely to prove catastrophic. However, market talk is that many of the alternative platform providers are finding the current trading conditions extremely challenging. Well-informed sources are predicting retrenchment by some and a radical change of business models by others as liquidity pools on fewer venues.

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