CME is Back in Black: CFTC Issues Warning Over Oil Volatility

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has written to exchanges, brokers and clearers in unusually forthright terms to remind them of their obligation to ensure orderly trading and commodity pricing. The letter was issued in the wake of unusually high volatility and negative prices in the light sweet crude oil futures contract (WTI) for delivery in May on the penultimate day of trading last month. The detailed restatement of basic obligations amounted to an extraordinary public warning to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), which operates the WTI futures contract. The Commission’s decision to issue a public caution illustrates the depth of concern about what happened in the run-up to the expiry of the May futures contract, and determination it must not be allowed to happen again. Futures exchanges were reminded of their obligation “to monitor the convergence between the contract price and the price of the underlying commodity” as expiry nears. Even more pointedly, exchanges were warned they must “monitor the supply of the commodity and its adequacy to satisfy the delivery requirements”

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