With the United States playing Germany in a Thursday afternoon World Cup soccer game, sports-crazy floor traders had a tough time focusing on slow-moving markets. In fact, for many traders, the World Cup is serving as a welcome diversion from the low-volatility year that stocks and commodities alike have experienced.
"It's a total distraction," reported Anthony Grisanti, who trades energy on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange. "During the beginning of the game, the market was not moving. It seems program trading was turned off—maybe even the computers were watching."
In Chicago, too, "the entire trading floor is focused on the soccer game, completely ignoring markets," said Jim Iuorio of TJM Institutional Services.
Attention didn't even turn back to finance at halftime.
"The cattle pit actually broke out into a mini soccer game at halftime of the real game," Iuorio said. "It was difficult to figure out if the cheering we were hearing was from the real game or from the impromptu heated cattle match."
"Sure it's a distraction, but given that the S&P was down as much as 15 points this morning, maybe it's the distraction we needed," points out Scott Nations of NationsShares. "Seriously, it's summer. I think it's fun to turn away from the computer screen and turn to the TV screen to watch a game I don't understand."
The match certainly served as a distraction for Iuorio as well as Jeff Kilburg during the taping of the CNBC.com program "Futures Now." In fact, when Germany scored the sole goal of the game, Iuorio initially raised both hands and yelled "goaaaal"—before Kilburg corrected him by pointing out that it was the wrong team that had scored.
"I thought it was the U.S.," Iuorio apologized. "Let's just talk about crude then, I guess."
Though the U.S. lost the game 1-0, the team will advance nonetheless—no doubt providing traders with further opportunities for distraction in the weeks ahead.
Crude oil, meanwhile, closed a quiet Thursday session 66 cents lower.