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SEC just blessed exchange's plan to revive the trading pit

Key Points
  • Open outcry pits have been disappearing or shrinking with the rise of electronic trading.
  • Critics had opposed the new trading venue for creating more fragmentation and reducing efficiency.
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For years humans have ceded trading with each other in open outcry pits in Chicago and New York to computers, but regulators have just blessed the return of the trading floor.

BoxOptions Exchange plans to open its pit in later this month in space at the Board of Trade in downtown Chicago.

Open-outcry pits have gone away with the rise of electronic trading over the last decade. Late last year, CME Group closed the pits of the New York Mercantile Exchange, where oil and metal once traded hands. Intercontinental Exchange, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, stopped floor trading for options on futures five years ago.

The number of traders on the floor at Chicago Board Options Exchange, the largest options exchange, has dwindled to under 500. The stock market has also shifted away from floor trading. The newest electronic stock exchange, IEX, was approved last year.

Box is 40 percent owned by the Toronto Stock Exchange. It was not a smooth ride through approval for Box, which got resistance from other exchanges that argued it would further fragment the markets and that its traders initially might not be able to handle both sides of a transaction, making them less efficient and more costly.

Box has argued that open outcry trading is better for large transactions and that its new trading floor would encourage better participation in large trades. "We're very pleased with the SEC's ruling and we're excited to compete with others in this market," said Ed Boyle, Box Market's chief executive.

"There were a lot of different takes on the matter leading up to the ruling and there were some good points made, but we feel like a lot of the complaints we had were from other competitors trying to keep us out of this market," he said.