CBOT grain traders petition for shorter trading day
* Almost 300 traders sign petition for shorter trading day
* CME can "right a wrong" by cutting hours - trader
* CME does not immediately respond to request for comment
By Tom Polansek
CHICAGO, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Grain traders circulated a petition on Tuesday asking the Chicago Board of Trade to reduce the nearly non-stop trading hours it implemented earlier this year.
Nearly 300 people signed the petition, started by a longtime independent trader, on its first day.
The petition calls on CME Group Inc, which owns the Board of Trade, to shorten the trading hours for corn, wheat and soybean futures and options that it expanded earlier this year to fend off competition from archival IntercontinentalExchange Inc.
The longer hours have spread out trading volume, cutting liquidity in the markets and increasing volatility, according to traders
CME did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"There's a general feeling that the markets are a mile wide and an inch deep," said Dan Brophy, who started the petition.
ICE mounted the biggest challenge yet to CME's cornerstone U.S. grain futures business in May when it launched five look-alike wheat, corn and oilseed contracts.
CME expanded its trading cycle to 21 hours a session from 17 hours in response to the threat from ICE. However, the threat has turned out to be minimal, as ICE's contracts have failed to attract significant volume.
ICE recently halved the exchange fees to trade its grain contracts, a move that was seen as an attempt to drum up business for its struggling markets.
CME officials "have the opportunity to right a wrong" by reducing the trading hours, said Terry Linn, an analyst for the Linn Group who signed the petition.
"The 21-hour trading day has been a flop," he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week said that it will in January begin issuing major agricultural reports at midday to take advantage of greater liquidity in the grain markets.
The department abandoned its traditional, early-morning release of key crop data following the start of nearly around-the-clock futures trading, which kept grain markets open for the first time when the reports are released.
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