Tapping into the renewable energy business, Nymex Holdings subsidiary the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) signed an agreement Tuesday with Ardour Global Indexes LLC, a developer of benchmark indexes for the global alternative energy industry, to introduce alternative energy index futures and options contracts.

"The introduction of alternative energy indexes is an exciting initiative for Nymex," said Richard Schaeffer, Nymex's chairman. "We have seen an interest in what we believe will be an expanding segment of the world's energy markets, and we strive to introduce innovative new products to the energy arena." Nymex plans to offer these products on the CME Globex electronic trading platform, where they will be available to investors, risk managers and traders around the world.

Nymex said the Ardour Global Alternative Energy Indexes (AGI) were designed to serve as fair, impartial and transparent measures of the performance of the alternative energy industry. So far this year, the AGI has risen more than 5%, reflecting surging interest in the sector caused by high energy prices, as well as security and environmental concerns, Nymex said. The capitalization-weighted, float-adjusted family of indexes incorporates companies engaged in five primary alternative energy sectors: alternative energy resources (including wind, solar, ethanol biomass and others), distributed generation, environmental controls, energy efficiency and enabling technologies.

"The transformation of the world's energy supply from fossil fuels to alternatives and renewables could become the dominant economic driver of the twenty-first century," said Joseph LaCorte, an AGI Index committee member. "The AGI is the bellwether for that transformation."

The AGI has also been licensed to several major providers of index products, including the Van Kampen division of Morgan Stanley, UBS and Van Eck Global.

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