ICE’s December Volumes Mixed as Equities, FX See Rebound

Futures and commodities volumes touched yearly lows amidst lightened trading schedules via the holiday season.

Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), a global network of exchanges and clearing houses, has reported its trading volumes for December 2017. The group’s overall volumes have continued an uneven course during Q4 2017, ending 2017 on a negative note. The equities space proved to be the only area to capture volumes growth during the month.

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The seasonal lull in December across the institutional space is hardly surprising, with ICE’s futures and options volumes seeing their lowest level since August 2017. A combination of lightened trading schedules due to the observance of holidays in the US and Europe as well as a lack of market drivers helped cap volumes in December.

Looking at December, it’s clear that big money remained on the sidelines for much of the month, with nearly all financial instruments experiencing lower trading activity. In particular, ICE’s futures and options business, as measured by its average daily volume (ADV), fell in December 2017 to 5.1 million contracts per day.

This represented a decline of 4.9 percent month-over-month from 5.3 million contracts per day in November 2017 – the latest reading is the third lowest figure of 2017, having bottomed out during August 2017 (4.6 million contracts per day).

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December 2017’s aggregated futures and options volumes were however higher on a yearly basis by 5.1 percent from December 2016 relative to 4.8 million contracts per day. ICE’s latest results are also on par with other institutional trading installations worldwide, as many exchanges in the US and UK saw declining or consolidating volumes heading into year-end.

Commodities volumes crater

Commodities trading has largely charted an uneven course in 2017, with ICE seeing a relatively narrow band of volumes during the year. With markets held in consolidation during December, the exchange saw its commodities ADV fall to 2.7 million contracts per day, its lowest reading of the calendar year.

This figure was lower by 13.4 percent month-over-month from 3.2 million contracts per day in November 2017. The exchange’s previous low was recorded back in August 2017, which was largely billed as one of the least active months of the past year and a half. This loss in commodities volume was also due in part to a lack of movement in gold prices, which up until recently had not broken out of a limited trading range.

Looking at the group’s equities volumes, ICE’s equity indices ADV during December 2017 did manage to record strong growth to 591,000 contracts per day. Equities proved to be one of the few breakout performing segments during December with stock markets reacting favorably to the passage of the Republican tax overhaul in the United States.

The latest equity indices reading corresponded to a growth of 104.4 percent month-over-month from 289,000 contracts per day in November 2017. The reading was the highest of the year since September 2017. This strength was also seen across ICE’s equity derivatives, which also soared 48.9 percent month-over-month to 393,000 contracts per day in December.

FX ADV rebounds

ICE’s foreign exchange and credit volumes also rebounded off of a dormant two-month stretch, reaching its highest reading since September 2017. December 2017 registered a figure of 31,000 contracts per day – this was good for a gain of 34.7 percent on a month-over-month basis from just 23,000 contracts per day in November 2017.

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