CME volumes rise 18% in March; copper up 23%

CME Group Inc’s average daily volumes (ADV) reached 16.9 million contracts in March, up 18% year-on-year, the exchange said in its monthly review.

In metals specifically, copper futures rose 23% to nearly 95,000 contracts per day. Overall, metals volume averaged 491,000 contracts per day in March, up 5% from March 2016 and maintaining the record pace set in the first quarter.

Since the beginning of the year, Comex copper open interest has set multiple records and hit an all-time volume high of 300,996 lots on February 13. On the same day, the contract reached its 14th open-interest record this year. 

In a CME research piece, senior economist Erik Norland attributed the copper rally to three things: China’s economic stabilisation, the election of US president Donald Trump and the 44-day strike at Chile’s Escondida mine, which produces around 5% of the world’s copper. 

The CME’s copper product was launched 30 years ago, but it struggled to compete against the London Metal Exchange’s well-established contract and focused mainly on the North American market. 

That changed in 2014, when the CME decided to push more aggressively into the copper market with a new focus on Asia. In 2016, ADVs traded on CME Group’s Comex copper contract rose by 26.5%. By contrast, LME copper volumes fell 5.6% in 2016, while total copper trading volumes on the Shanghai Futures Exchange dropped by 18% last year. 

Besides copper, platinum and silver on the CME saw year-on-year growth of 19% and 17%, respectively, in ADVs during March. 

The CME Group is the world’s largest derivatives marketplace, with trading facilities in New York and Chicago, where it is headquartered.