CHICAGO -- The Chicago Board of Trade today launched its agricultural futures contracts on the e-cbot(R) electronic trading platform side-by-side with its open-auction platform during daytime trading hours.

Providing greater access to the CBOT's benchmark agricultural markets, the expanded electronic trading schedule also creates increased trading opportunities for new and existing CBOT customers worldwide, the Board said.

Previously, CBOT's agricultural futures contracts traded electronically only after hours, which enabled the CBOT to expand its distribution of its agricultural products globally to the Asian and European sectors.

CBOT Chairman Charles P. Carey said, "This initiative pairs two of the CBOT's greatest assets -- the longstanding expertise of our floor traders and our premier electronic trading platform -- to further enhance the deep, liquid CBOT agricultural markets."

CBOT President and CEO Bernard W. Dan said the mission behind this action is to create greater opportunities for the entire marketplace, increase access to CBOT commodity products and aggressively work to create a single, centralized pool of liquidity between the floor and screens.

"This initiative also is an important element of our global expansion strategy," he said. "All together, these efforts underscore the CBOT's role as the pricing benchmark within the world of agriculture."

The CBOT first extended the electronic trading hours of its South American soybean futures contract and its ethanol futures contracts in May. Since then, the CBOT ethanol futures surpassed the 1,000-contract mark in open interest, setting a new all-time record of 1,068 contracts on July 10.

The electronic trading hours for the CBOT's agricultural futures complex -- which includes corn, wheat, soybean, soybean oil, soybean meal, rough rice and oat contracts -- are during daytime trading from 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. (Chicago Time) and resume from 6:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.

In preparation for the launch, the CBOT made several technical enhancements to the agricultural trading floor, including adding 190 handheld technology devices (e-HHTs) on the floor; adding more than 200 new headsets; implementing wireless technology for the e-HHTs and headsets; and adding 40 plasma screens around the trading pits on the ag floor.

Aside from differing ticker symbols, the contract specifications for the electronically-traded agricultural products are the same as those traded on the open auction platform. The contracts are fully fungible regardless of trading platform.

The Chicago Board of Trade provides a diverse mix of financial, equity and commodity futures and options-on-futures products.

SOURCE: Chicago Board of Trade via PR Newswire.