Monday, October 31, 2011

Crude Drifts Lower As Volume Drops Out

Crude futures drifted lower Monday amid light volume as trading was halted for clients of MF Global, one of the market's largest commodity brokers that filed for bankruptcy Monday.

Volume was less than half of normal levels, with fewer than 300,000 contracts traded compared with the 200 day moving average of nearly 660,000, as exchanges informed clients of MF that they would be limited to liquidating positions and otherwise unable to trade until they moved their accounts to other brokerages.

Brokerage firms such as MF provide vital "clearing" services for the markets, acting as escrow agents of sorts to match orders, handle payments, and execute and settle trades. The firm counted many major hedge funds and commercial hedging clients among its customers. The chaotic process got under way shortly after the opening of the market in New York on Monday, frustrating traders with untold delays as they processed papers to move accounts and positions elsewhere.

"I'm unable to trade," one trader and client of MF said, on the condition he not be identified. "Nothing can go in or out of your account until it moves over to another clearinghouse, and that is a function of paperwork, begun during the trading day, which is not the way to do it".......Read the entire Rigzone article.

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