USDA’s NASS Mulling Changes as CBOT Grain Trade to Expand to 22 Hours

May 3, 2012 01:45 AM
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

No decisions made yet as agency examines shift in trading hours

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

The impact of expanding grain and soybean futures trade on the CBOT to 22 hours has prompted USDA's National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) to examine the issue of whether to adjust any of their report release times, contacts advise, but no decisions have been made as of yet.

The CME Group announced this week it would expand electronic trading in grain and soybean futures to 22 hours – 6 pm CT to 4 pm CT daily – as of May 14. The move set off considerable speculation in the trade that NASS was poised to shift report release times in response.

But officials within the agency confirmed that no decision has been made and note there are several “moving parts” that go into analyzing the situation.

One factor is that NASS has already announced its schedule of reports and release times for reports for 2012. While that certainly could change, it is one factor sources noted relative to this issue.

Also, the agency has not yet been contacted about the trading hour shift, contacts noted.

Previously, NASS and USDA’s World Ag Outlook Board did adjust their report release times moving the reports from a 2 pm CT release time to 7:30 am CT. Cotton, however, lagged in the change as a legislative “fix” was needed.

However, contacts note that it does not appear any legislative action would be required should NASS opt to move report times now.

“There are lots of unknowns here,” said one contact, “including Is one release time better than another, especially since the time markets are open will get longer.” One consideration or question, the contact added, is whether the agency wants to release data during market hours or when they are closed.

“That raises several issues, including if the report releases remain where they are and they are then released during market hours because of the CBOT changes, does that put any data users at a disadvantage,” another contact said. “One consideration when the report times were moved before was so that foreign markets could not trade on the information before US markets could. Now this raises a question relative to electronic versus open-outcry trading.”

Bottom line is that no decisions have been made on whether to move the report release times and NASS is continuing to study the matter carefully and will attempt to consider all the factors at play.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


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