At the week-long metals conference known as LME week, CME Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CME) on Tuesday said it will launch an aluminum contract on an as-yet undetermined date. The contract will challenge the London Metals Exchange’s (LME) benchmark chokehold on the $90 billion aluminum market.
LME has come under harsh criticism for delays in getting metals out of its bonded warehouses and for a lack of transparency in its price-setting method. CME Group says it is answering a demand from market participants for an alternative to “other contracts” currently available. CME Group’s head of metals did not need to call out LME by name in order to be understood.
The biggest plus to a new aluminum contract, from a trader’s point of view, is quicker transport of the base metal from warehouses to customers. The Wall Street Journal cites a commodities broker who said, “The LME was always used as a market of last resort. But you can’t call it a market of last resort if you can’t actually take delivery … . So it was making a distortion of what prices should be.”
For its part, LME is bowing to pressure for more transparency and promises that by end of the month it will have new rules to speed shipments from its warehouses and to offer more information on trading in the same manner that the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission now publishes its weekly Commitment of Traders report.
Among the world’s largest aluminum companies both Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) and Russia’s Rusal have said that the LME aluminum benchmark is essentially becoming irrelevant.