Open outcry trading in Kansas City draws to close

by Jay Sjerven
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KANSAS CITY — Friday, June 28, was the final day of trading in the wheat futures and options pits of the Kansas City Board of Trade. Present and many past members of the exchange gathered on that day to mark the occasion, several arriving on the trading floor before the close of trading at 1:15 p.m. so they could be part of what was in fact an historic occasion. Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas was on hand to ring the closing bell that signaled both the end of the day’s trading and the end of an era. It was grand to see the trading floor crowded, loud and boisterous one last time, for the open outcry pits during the past several months witnessed an exodus of independent and commercial traders who left for corporate or even basement offices to trade hard red winter wheat futures and options on-line. Near the end, only a handful of traders could be found on the trading floor on any given day, and they tended computer monitors that registered their and others’ electronic trades while the pits stood empty. Open outcry trading in Kansas City, as in Minneapolis a couple of years earlier, ended with a whimper having been rendered redundant and obsolete by the unstoppable expansion of electronic trading.

Still, the assembled members and staff of the Kanas City Board of Trade could rightfully take pride in having been part of building and sustaining historic and successful contracts — hard red winter wheat futures, which have been traded for more than a century, and K.C. wheat options, which have been traded for decades.

These contracts have provided means for producers, grain merchants, flour millers, bakers and other commercial users of wheat and flour to hedge the risks encountered by themselves and their businesses in both good times and hard times. In turn, the exchange helped establish a world price for wheat, creating efficiencies that helped feed billions.

While the trading floor at the Kansas City Board of Trade now is closed, trading in hard red winter wheat futures and options will continue and even promises to thrive with the contracts now essential parts of the panoply of risk management tools provided by the CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace.

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