SGX currency futures trading rose 59% in 2017

Trading in Singapore Exchange currency futures spiked in 2017, with volume rising to nearly 10 million contracts, up 59 per cent on 2016.
Trading in Singapore Exchange currency futures spiked in 2017, with volume rising to nearly 10 million contracts, up 59 per cent on 2016.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Trading in Singapore Exchange (SGX) currency futures spiked in 2017, the bourse operator said.

Annual trading volume rose to nearly 10 million contracts last year, up 59 per cent on 2016.

Much of the growth came in the second half of the year, driven by a flurry of trading in both Indian rupee futures and the offshore yuan market, according to the SGX My Gateway investor education portal.

Full-year volume for SGX rupee/United States dollar futures was up by 40 per cent on the previous year, to 7.96 million contracts. The notional value of these rose to around US$245 billion (S$327 billion) from US$168 billion.

The report pointed to recent economic initiatives, such as the introduction of a standardised goods and services tax (GST) in India, as factors driving trading.

"While the GST reform is likely to drive revenue growth in the long term, its short-term impact has been negative, as tax revenue from GST has fallen since the implementation of the new system remains a work in progress."

The possibility of missing revenue targets has prompted more government borrowing and bumped up sovereign bond yields, the report noted on Tuesday.

"The impact of these changes on the currency markets tends to be significant and SGX has benefited from the spurts in volatility."

US dollar/offshore yuan futures trading beat out the pessimism in early 2017, when the Chinese currency looked like it would slide for another year.

Instead, futures trading against the greenback nearly quadrupled over 2016 in both contracts volume and notional value, to 1.9 million contracts worth US$190 billion.

The growth came on the back of the yuan's 5.7 per cent gain against the greenback last year.

This strengthening was partly thanks to the yuan's inclusion in the International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Right reserve basket in late 2016. Recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula helped the yuan usurp the greenback as a safe-haven currency.

A historic Communist Party congress last October and the central bank's boost to the reference rate last month also gave the offshore yuan its wings back.

The appreciation in offshore yuan over the year had a significant impact on the trading volume for SGX US dollar/yuan futures, said the report.

SGX saw 126 trading days in 2017 with trades in excess of US$1 billion for at least one of the two currencies. Trading for SGX rupee/US dollar futures racked up 105 days above this level - from 29 in 2016.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2018, with the headline 'SGX currency futures trading rose 59% in 2017'. Print Edition | Subscribe