NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fixed income trading platform Tradeweb Markets (TW.O) on Thursday reported record volumes in the third quarter as market volatility driven by the U.S.-China trade war and global rate cuts bolstered activity during the normally sluggish summer months.
Average daily volume across all asset classes was $815 billion in the last quarter, a 53.3% increase from the same period a year ago. The gains were partly driven by its interest rates business, which was up 64.5% year over year.
Tradeweb is majority owned by Refinitiv. Thomson Reuters, the parent of Reuters News, holds a stake in Refinitiv.
The other main fixed-income-only trading platform, MarketAxess (MKTX.O), earlier this month reported average daily trading volume of $824.7 billion for the third quarter and $875.5 billion for September, up 35% and 22.43% from the same period in 2018 respectively.
Trading desks are typically quieter in July and August as market participants go on holiday. But this year the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time since 2008 in July, then again in September; the U.S.-China trade war persisted and began to weaken U.S. economic data; and political stability was threatened from Hong Kong to Britain to Iran.
While trading volumes have been generally elevated this year, the surge in the third quarter has been notable, said Kevin McPartland, managing director, market structure and technology, at Greenwich Associates.
“Volatility is effectively driving volume, which is driving volatility,” he said.
While other exchanges did not report overall monthly or quarterly records, volumes still rose dramatically from prior years. CME Group (CME.O) averaged 20.2 million contracts in all asset classes per day in Q3, up 30% from a year ago. Intercontinental Exchange (ICE.N) reported a 12% year-on-year rise in average daily volume.
Top-line growth at companies like Tradeweb has surged as fixed-income trading has begun to move online, a transition equities traders made in the 1990s. Capitalizing in part on this shift, Tradeweb went public in April of this year and its share price has since risen 16%.
Tradeweb and MarketAxess have benefited from both the overall rise in market trading volumes and the increased proportion that is being conducted electronically.
“As recently as five years ago, when markets got volatile, the buy side’s inclination when executing a trade was to move away from the screen and pick up the phone. That approach has shown signs of reversing,” said McPartland.
Reporting by Kate Duguid; editing by Richard Pullin