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Friday, 28 April, 2000, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
End of the Liffe-jacket
Liffe traders
The coloured jackets have become a familiar sight
One of the City's great traditions came to an end on Friday with the closure of the last open outcry pits in the Square Mile.

The Liffe market became known for its traders in their brightly coloured jackets, a familiar sight on the streets of London's financial district.

But the advent of new technology means trading at the exchange will now be done on computer screens.

Liffe trades in futures and options, the complex financial contracts which allow investors to speculate on the future values of shares, bonds and other products.
Life trader
Hand signals are used to communicate

It began in September 1982, and its rapid growth made it necessary to move to a bigger site nine years later.

At its height, the market had up to 3,000 traders, many of them paid huge salaries.

But the growing competition from other exchanges meant Liffe had to embrace new technology.

Trading by computer is cheaper than face-to-face trading, and the two-year process of phasing in the technology was completed on Friday.

'Like a football match'

"We had some great times, a lot of fun and saw the business explode during the late 80s and early 90s," recalled trader Peter Green of Kyte Futures, who now works by computer.

"It was more like going to a football match every day, whereas coming here is like going to a sports cafe and watching it on screen."

Another trader commented: "The atmosphere was fantastic, but like everything times change and you have to move on."

Open outcry, with its communications system of furious hand signals, is still used in London at the International Petroleum Exchange and the commodities market.

But the demise of the multi-coloured pit at Liffe ends an exotic chapter in the City's history.

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See also:

22 Mar 99 | The Economy
Liffe rocked by scandal
30 Nov 98 | The Economy
Liffe goes on - electronically
19 Nov 98 | The Economy
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