CME calls time on most of its physical trading pits

Futures exchange operator CME Group Inc (CME.O) said on Tuesday it has decided to permanently close the physical trading pits it shut last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said the eurodollar options pit, which was reopened last August, will remain open, allowing the trade of contracts in both open outcry and electronic venues. However, grain trading pits will remain closed.

Open outcry traders use hand signals and shouting to communicate bids and offers in trading pits that until recent years were packed with brokers wearing bright-colored jackets.

Chicago-based CME shuttered its trading floor in the city a year ago as part of efforts to reduce large gatherings that can contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

The exchange operator had already closed most of its futures pits in 2015 as trading volumes shifted to electronic platforms, although more than 20 products including eurodollar, as well as grain, livestock, dairy and lumber options, were still traded in pits.

Open-outcry trading is an increasingly rare tradition in global markets. The 144-year-old London Metal Exchange said last month that it plans to announce around June 8 whether it will reopen its open outcry trading ring or permanently shut the only such floor in Europe.

The New York Stock Exchange partially reopened its trading floor in May 2020.