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November 1, 2002

The Windy City Dilemma

By Staff Reports

Is it progress for options and a setback for futures on two Windy City trading floors?

At the Chicago Board Options Exchange members voted to give non-members electronic access to the exchange, a move which could draw more order flow but also means lower costs for order senders. On the other hand, a planned IPO for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is looking shaky. Observers doubt it will attract the investor interest that might be possible if the bull market was still raging. There is also a question mark over whether the Merc will more fully automate its systems prior to the planned offering. The exchange won't comment, citing the "quiet period" that must be observed for an IPO. But it says it is committed to more technology.

Meanwhile, members at the CBOE voted 556 to 211 in favor of granting electronic access privileges to outsiders. Only five members abstained.