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Friday, 19 November, 1999, 18:44 GMT
No longer Liffe as we know it
Liffe The future of Liffe will be far less colourful

Many of the colourful and loud-mouthed traders at London's Liffe exchange have barked their last trade.

Their disappearance on Friday was a further blow to the fast disappearing system of open-outcry trading.

Liffe traders Jamie Wilson: a lot of serious business got done
This type of trading - already lost at the London Stock Exchange - is where dealers shout and gesticulate using old fashioned dealing calls and gestures.

From Monday most of Liffe's trading will be officially switched to electronic dealing.

The change will affect about 200 traders, leaving just 100 dealers trading by the traditional method.

The exchange announced last month it would shift the contracts.

Spread about the country

It is another move in the overhaul at Liffe, the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, to take the exchange to screen-based electronic trading.

Liffe introduced its electronic system Connect last year.

Two years ago, the exchange had about 3,000 open outcry dealers and supporting staff in its trading pits.

The dealers affected by the latest move trade in short term interest rate futures contracts, which are currently traded by both open outcry and Connect.

The last remaining open outcry traders deal in financial options and commodities. Financial options contracts will go electronic in the second quarter next year with the commodities expected to follow.

Mucking about

Liffe traders are now dispersed around the country, able to trade in rented office space or at the financial institutions which employ them.

The exchange itself does not employ traders.

Many have said that they prefer the current system, and the ability it gives to get a "feel" for the way the markets are moving.

Among those departing the floor was futures broker Jamie Wilson: "There was a lot of mucking about here, but it was good fun and a lot of serious business got done.

"It was great. It is going to be very sad to see it go."

There has been a general move across the world's financial markets to screen based dealing, rather than the chaotic looking floor trading of the past.

The most high profile exception is the New York Stock Exchange.

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