LONDON (REUTERS) - The London Metal Exchange (LME) is set to upgrade and strengthen its electronic trading system after falling volumes and user complaints about outages and poor functionality.
The LME launched a discussion on market structure and reform in April after trading volumes fell 4.3 per cent in 2015 and 7.7 per cent in 2016. It will publish the results on Thursday.
It is expected to cut some fees, seek consensus on reducing rents for storing metal in its network of warehouses, encourage trading of monthly contracts and highlight potential investments in its electronic trading platform, LMEselect.
Brokers and traders say they have complained to the LME about frequent disconnections and glitches on LMEselect. "It has more outages than it should do," said a source at a major commodities-trading bank. "It's a credibility issue for the LME." Necessary upgrades were likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, sources said. "Enough people have made a point of highlighting LMEselect in their responses to the discussion paper," said a source at a metals broker. "It gives the LME ammunition for HKEx."
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx), bought the LME in 2012 for US$2.2 billion (S$2.97 billion).
Around a third of LME volumes come through LMEselect, which launched in 2001, with the remainder traded in open outcry and via telephone.
The head of a metals brokerage said outages had occurred every few months on LMEselect, sometimes lasting up to four hours.
Investors have also complained that LMEselect's opening hours do not suit traders in the United States and that the system cannot perform sophisticated functions for industrial metals trading such as implied pricing.
Implied pricing involves extrapolating prices for contracts that mature on one date from trading activity on other dates, something common on other exchanges. "LMEselect technology is old, slow and prone to freezing over, not a good situation when you have a client order," said another source at a metals broker.
The LME said its discussion paper had proposed ways to increase the processing power of LMEselect, and these could enable functionality such as extrapolated prices. "Should the LME decide to take this or another proposal forward, we would of course make the necessary investments to make this possible," it said.