At the core of the London Metal Exchange’s position as the pre-eminent metals trading exchange are a few key factors that differentiate it from its peers.
These include its open outcry trading floor, or the ring; its unique prompt-dates structure; the extensive warehousing system; and the fact that brokers can grant free credit to their clients.
No other exchange with metals contracts has all of these components at its core. Yet 2014 will see pressure on the 136-year-old exchange crank up.
Perhaps the biggest threat to the LME's standing next year will be the weakening of the ability of brokers to grant credit.
It has been an essential part of clients’ trading models and helps to keep volumes, and therefore liquidity, at elevated levels.
But regulatory changes will hit brokers hard.
Former LME ceo Martin Abbott warned at Cesco in April that the widespread practice of providing free credit lines...