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CME Sees Record-Breaking Volumes in Q1 2020 Despite Market Downturn

Tanking stocks and massive liquidations that have plagued the market since mid-March seem to have had very little effect on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). One of the largest providers of derivative trading products in the world has, according to a press release, achieved record-breaking volumes in the first quarter of the year. 

CME Group announced that it achieved record international average daily volume (ADV) of 7.2 million contracts in the first quarter of 2020, up 57% year on year. The number has also surpassed the previous quarterly record set in the second quarter of 2019 when 5.3 million contracts were traded. Overall, the record was driven largely by huge growths in equity and interest rate products, which were up 152% and 46% on the quarter, respectively.

The company said that this record reflects the increase in equity and interest rates products outside North America, especially in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, where the 5.4 million contracts traded represented a 54% increase from Q1 2019. 

“In the first quarter of this year, we have seen unprecedented market conditions leading to increased volatility, and our record international volumes reflect a heightened need for risk management,” said William Knottenbelt, Senior Managing Director and Head of International, CME Group.

The average daily volume in the Asia Pacific region reached a record 1.6 million contracts, driven by a 195% growth in equity products, 76% growth in metals products, and 59% growth in interest rate products. Equity products also saw a 138% growth in Latin America, pumping up the average daily volume in the region to 182,000 contracts. 

Globally, CME Group recorded an average daily volume of 32.1 million contacts in March alone, an increase of 68% since March last year. The average daily volume in the first quarter of the year reached a record 27 million contracts, an increase of 45% from Q1 2019, while open interest at the end of March was 123 million contracts. 

Such a huge surge in volumes goes against all market odds, as both stocks and commodities have seen their value plummet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even Bitcoin, which has long been considered an uncorrelated asset, saw its price decimated once the rest of the market crashed. 

Derivatives trading volume, however, seems to have resisted the downturn. What’s even more surprising is the fact that this growth seems to be rolling onto the second quarter of the year, too. 

Graph showing the total open interest and volumes of Bitcoin futures products on CME

(Source: Skew Research)

According to data from cryptocurrency analytics firm Skew Research, Bitcoin futures trading activity on CME has been on the rise since the beginning of April and it’s showing no sign of stopping. Open interest on the platform has been up 50% in the 8 days since the month began and has reached levels recorded in the second half of March. With an average daily volume of $293 million and $171 in open interest recorded so far, we could be seeing new records being broken both in volume and interest on CME.

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