HKEX takes aim at Asian arbitrage trade with launch of London Metal Mini Futures

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (HKEX) will launch US dollar-denominated London Metal Mini Futures for six base metals starting August 5, the exchange said recently.

The company, which has wholly owned the London Metal Exchange since 2012, said that the new Hong Kong-listed contracts will be available for aluminium, zinc, copper, nickel, tin and lead.

The move is the latest attempt from HKEX and the LME group to capture trade volume in the Asian markets; similar to competitor exchanges CME and Shanghai Futures Exchange, the Mini Futures will be cash settled against the LME closing price of the third Wednesday of the spot month.

The exchange hopes that this will allow market participants to use the Mini Futures to simply lock arbitrage possibilities with concurrently-dated contracts in Chicago and Shanghai, it said.

“The new London Metal Mini Futures will provide trading opportunities for investors that have exposure in US dollar-denominated base metals in the Asian time zone,” Dennis Zhang, HKEX’s head of commodities development, said.

HKEX already has a suite of complementary London Metal Mini Futures, denominated in offshore RMB or CNH. CNH contracts will be renamed as CNH London Metal Mini Futures once the US dollar products are launched.

HKEX had flagged that it was planning to launch the dollar denominated contracts during May’s LME Asia summit.

The LME launched similar mini contracts in 2006 but these fell flat with the retail investor customers the bourse had targeted.

By listing the contracts on the HKEX, the expectation is that the retail market will trade the low lot-size, cash settled and Asia-based contracts.

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