January 17, 2019 / 3:08 PM / in a month

New EU rules electrify fixed income trading volumes: survey

LONDON (Reuters) - Volumes of electronic trading in fixed income have jumped since European Union rules introduced a year ago made it more cumbersome to execute over-the-counter (OTC) business, in a bid to make deals more transparent, a report said.

Total average daily volumes of EU government bonds traded electronically in the first three quarters of last year rose by 36 percent to $57 billion, the report by Greenwich Associates based on a survey of fixed income investors said.

Credit volumes on electronic platforms jumped 39 percent to $4 billion over the same period, it found.

Market participants are using electronic platforms more because the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II), introduced in January 2018, made it more onerous to carry out OTC trades, it said.

Electronic venues make time stamping and data reporting easier compared with OTC, the report said.

Electronic trading in interest rate swaps by European buy-side fixed income traders jumped by 36 percent in 2018, compared with 20-percent growth a year earlier, the report showed.

MiFID II, the second iteration of sweeping rules aimed at increasing transparency in financial markets, was broadened beyond equities to cover other asset classes, including fixed income, derivatives and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Spot foreign exchange was excluded, but forex derivatives are covered by the rules, which require pre- and post-trade data to be reported. For instance, the prevailing price in the market must be checked and recorded prior to executing a deal.

Greenwich said traders expected electronic trading to expand as more dealers were connected and adjusted their workflow.

Algorithmic trading, common in equity and foreign exchange markets, could take off in fixed income, Greenwich said.

MiFID II and more robust requirements for so-called best execution, including comparing prices across brokers, were boosting the use of transaction cost analysis (TCA), which helps traders measure performance against execution benchmarks, it said.

Of the European equity traders surveyed, 95 percent said they used TCA, up from 74 percent in 2017.

Usage is increasing in fixed income, where it accounts for 50 percent, and foreign exchange, where it accounts for 63 percent. Those are still below levels in equity markets.

“Outside of equities, we can expect to see continued increases in e-trading and new venues emerging,” the report said.

The rising use of TCA is expected to boost electronic trading as algorithms are designed to achieve specific TCA benchmarks.

Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Alexander Smith and Edmund Blair

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