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Nymex Extends Sunday's Trading Hours Due to Hurricane Rita

With Hurricane Rita's path still uncertain as of Thursday, the New York Mercantile Exchange Inc. (Nymex) extended trading hours on Sunday, Sept. 25 in order to give its members more flexibility. The extension was only for Nymex Access electronic trading, Nymex ClearPort electronic trading and clearing, and Nymex miNY futures contracts traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange GLOBEX trading system.

"We wanted to make sure that our members and our industry have every opportunity to manage their risk, especially with current market conditions," said Nymex spokeswoman Anu Ahluwalia.

Instead of opening at the normal Sunday time of 7 p.m. EDT on Sept. 25, energy contracts were to begin trading on Nymex Access at 10 a.m. EDT Sunday (with a market pre-open at 9:40 a.m.), continuing until Monday at 9:30 a.m., the end of typical overnight trading for these products.

Nymex ClearPort trading and clearing for all products was supposed to commence at 10 a.m. EDT (with a market pre-open at 9:40 a.m.) on Sunday, continuing through to its normal trading hours. Nymex miNY crude oil and natural gas futures contracts were to begin trading at 5 p.m. EDT on Sunday and continue until Monday at 9:30 a.m., the end of regular overnight trading for these products.

Commenting on the extended Sunday hours, Commercial Brokerage Corp.'s Tom Saal said, "I guess Nymex traders have to work six days a week now."

By comparison, IntercontinentalExchange's (ICE) OTC natural gas, power and oil markets are open for trading throughout each weekend and most holidays.

Some within the industry said the move was in response to what happened during Hurricane Katrina, when traders were forced to look for avenues other than Nymex to lay off their price risk. One market source noted that trading in ICE's Henry Hub futures swap was vibrant during the weekend just before Katrina's landfall. "Whether you are looking to manage risk or take advantage of volatility, the market will gravitate to the exchange that is open for business," he said.

Earlier this month, ICE said beginning Oct. 2, the Sunday evening maintenance window for its OTC markets will occur one hour earlier to allow Sunday trading to resume at 7 p.m. EDT and at midnight in the UK, rather than the current 8 p.m. EDT. The weekday maintenance window (Monday-Thursday) will begin at 6:30 p.m. EDT and conclude by 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Also beginning Oct. 2, ICE's International Petroleum Exchange's Brent and Gas Oil futures and options markets will open one hour earlier at 8 p.m. EDT and 01:00 BST/GMT, Sunday through Friday. As a result, these markets will be available for trading 21 hours daily. On Fridays, market hours will be extended by one and a half hours, with a new closing time of 5:00 p.m. EDT and 22:00 BST/GMT.

"In response to continued demand for real-time risk management in the global energy markets, we are pleased to make the energy marketplace more accessible than ever," said Chuck Vice, ICE's COO.

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