Nymex and CME offer joint energy futures

The “E-mini” versions of Nymex’s crude, heating oil, gasoline and natural gas futures will trade on the CME’s Globex electronic platform from the second half of the year. The size of the contracts has yet to be determined.

Nymex president Robert Collins told a press conference the move came in light of a “flight to quality” following the September 11 attacks and the greater scrutiny of accounting caused by Enron’s bankruptcy. Both Nymex and the CME are regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and are seen by some companies to be less risky than the over-the-counter energy markets.

The move comes after Nymex said in December it was dropping plans for its own electronic trading system, eNymex. The exchange said it plans to expand Access, its existing electronic system.

The exchanges also held out the prospect of further alliances in the future, sparking speculation of a possible merger. CME chairman Scott Gordon said the two exchanges were discussing ways of working together in the future, but declined to comment further.

Rumours had been circulating in the days before the announcement of a possible strategic alliance between Nymex and Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange, which is merging with the London-based International Petroleum Exchange – Nymex’s main rival.

Spokespeople for both companies declined to comment on the rumours.

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