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CME Futures Rolled Out Smoothly; Bitcoin Remains Bullish

20 December 2017

New bitcoin futures were launched on Sunday night on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), making it the second largest stock market in the U.S. to speculate on virtual currency.

Monex Group's online broker-dealer TradeStation said that its futures clients can trade the new Bitcoin futures contrac provided by CME.

The top derivatives regulator in the US has created a new information portal for cryptocurrencies, a move that came just days ahead of a major bitcoin futures launch.

The contracts were priced only 2% higher than the actual Bitcoin price, which made trading them more effective than CBOE's, which were as much as 13% higher than the BTC price. But two days later Cboe Global Markets said it was launching its own futures contract on December 10, a week before CME.

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The CME exchange may see higher volume overnight as markets open on Monday morning in the US.

The reference price, from which price limits are set, is US$19,600 for the February contract, US$19,700 for March and US$19,900 for June, according to CME. TD Ameritrade, a major brokerage for retail traders, will allow buying and selling of bitcoin futures.

Cboe futures are based of Bitcoin value on just one exchange - the Gemini exchange, founded by the Winklevoss twins - while CME futures will be based off four exchanges.

Disclosure: CME Group is an investor in Digital Currency Group, CoinDesk's parent company. The contracts, which settle in dollars and trade on regulated exchanges, can be bought by institutional investors that are prohibited from buying bitcoin directly on largely unregulated exchanges. So in notional terms, 5125 Bitcoins traded at the CME today, compared to 3751 at the CBOE. The most active contract in the CME trading traded 221 times in the first hour of trading.

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The general sentiment in the market remains one of caution, which is reflected in margin requirements for the contracts.

At the starting of this year, TradeStation also extended support for real-time market data for CME's two Bitcoin indices, including BRR and the CME CF Bitcoin Real Time Index.

The margin requirement at CME is 35 per cent, while at Cboe, it is 40 per cent, reflecting bitcoin's volatility.

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CME Futures Rolled Out Smoothly; Bitcoin Remains Bullish