Global Futures, Options Volumes Hit Record Levels

FIA today released data for global futures and options trading in the first quarter of 2020 that shows the total number of contracts traded on derivatives exchanges worldwide rose to 11.41 billion, an all-time quarterly record and an increase of 43.2% over the first quarter of 2019.

“The tremendous increase in trading volumes clearly demonstrates the importance and resilience of the listed derivatives markets during these stressed times,” says Walt Lukken, president and CEO. “In spite of the volatility and economic uncertainty caused by this global pandemic, these markets have continued to provide the vitally important functions of price discovery and risk management without interruption.”

Total trading of futures reached 6.42 billion contracts in the first quarter, up 45.8% from the first quarter of 2019. Options volume reached 4.99 billion, up 40% from the same period last year.

Open interest, which measures the number of outstanding contracts, was 921.3 million at the end of March, up 5.2% compared to the period last year.

FIA measures volume and open interest by the number of contracts traded and/or cleared on 80 exchanges and clearinghouses worldwide. The statistics include exchange rankings, top contracts by category, and summary statistics on regional and category trends.

Also notable, FIA points out that the surge in trading activity was global, with all regions showing growth rates of 35% or more. Volume on North American exchanges grew 47.2% to 3.59 billion contracts; volume on Asia-Pacific exchanges grew 35.8% to 4.4 billion; while olume on European exchanges grew 43.9% to 1.77 billion.

Equity index futures and options had the greatest rate of growth among the nine categories of contracts tracked by FIA. More than 4.57 billion equity index futures and options contracts changed hands in the first quarter, up 61.9% from March 2019. Open interest in this category also grew rapidly, rising 16.7% to 258.6 million contracts over the same time period.

Interest rate futures and options also grew rapidly, rising 37.2% to 1.55 billion contracts. Open interest in this category rose 4.1% to 187 million contracts.

In the commodity sector, energy had the highest rate of growth, with volume rising 52.8% to 892.8 million contracts in the first quarter. Agriculture grew even more rapidly, though from a lower base, with volume rising 68.9% to 562.5 million contracts.

Futures and options based on gold, silver and other precious metals were also notable in the first quarter, notes FIA. Trading volume in precious metals contracts jumped 83.4% to 194.8 million contracts, and open interest rose 17.1% to 5.06 million contracts at the end of March.

Non-precious metals represented the only category to show a decline in trading volume. Trading in this category reached 320 million contracts in the first quarter, down 1.3% from the first quarter of 2019. On the other hand, open interest in this category rose 15.5% to 9.96 million contracts at the end of March.

Julie Ros

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