The success story that is Liffe’s universal stock futures contracts (USF) continues to run. Launched on January 29 this year, the product is valued at around e230m, and the interest in the existing USFs has resulted in the launch of a further 25 contracts to add to the 40 already traded. The total market capital-isation of these companies is some e7.2trn. By the time of the new additions at mid May over 350,000 contracts had been traded, involving 90.6m shares worth e1.5bn.
The popularity of the USFs has been noted around Europe, and exchanges are racing to set up their own contracts, but London has certainly got a head start, and is keen to consolidate that position. Significantly Liffe has decided to emphasise its international standing by expanding via a series of contracts on blue-chip global stocks, so capturing some stock futures from under the noses of rival exchanges. The stocks themselves span three currencies and eight exchanges, whilst being accessed via a single trading platform.
Three sectors will be represented for the first time; these are automobiles, media and retail. The new sectors are designed to increase the scope for sector based hedging.