CME Group to Close Most of Its Trading Pits in Chicago


The exchange operator

CME Group Inc.


CME 0.32%

said it would permanently close most of its open-outcry trading pits in Chicago, ending one of the world’s last vestiges of old-fashioned floor trading.

In an announcement Tuesday, CME said a number of trading pits that it closed temporarily in March 2020 to prevent the spread of Covid-19 wouldn’t be reopened. Many U.S. workplaces are coming back to life as the pandemic eases.

Some of the CME pits being shut down include pits for trading agricultural commodities, where traders haggle over options on soybeans, wheat, cattle and hogs.

Floor trading for agricultural commodities has existed in Chicago since the mid-19th century and has long been part of the heritage of CME Group, which took its name from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, now one of the company’s subsidiaries. But the rise of electronic trading has made floor traders nearly irrelevant in most financial markets, and exchanges have been shutting down trading pits in Chicago and elsewhere during the past two decades.

The only part of CME’s trading floor that will remain open is the Eurodollar options pit, which the exchange operator reopened in August with social-distancing requirements and other measures to protect traders from the coronavirus. Eurodollars are a type of interest-rate contract and represent one of CME’s biggest marketplaces.

CME is also permanently closing its pit for the trading of futures and options on the S&P 500, the exchange operator said Tuesday.

Following CME’s move, only a few outposts of floor trading remain in the U.S. Those include the New York Stock Exchange’s trading floor in Manhattan and several options trading floors, including one at CME’s crosstown rival in Chicago,

Cboe Global Markets Inc.

Overseas, the London Metal Exchange is considering permanently closing its open-outcry ring, where traders swap metals such as copper and lead while sitting on a round red couch. Like CME, the LME temporarily closed the ring in March 2020 as a coronavirus precaution, but the closure sparked longstanding discussions over whether open-outcry trading was still needed.

In 2016, CME shut down the Manhattan energy trading floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange, one of its subsidiaries. The next year, CME ended a daily auction on its Chicago trading floor that had helped set the national price of cheese, replacing it with an electronic process.

Write to Alexander Osipovich at alexander.osipovich@dowjones.com

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