CHINA PLANS TO LAUNCH CRUDE OIL FUTURES

China plans to launch its long-awaited crude oil futures contract on March 26, the country’s securities regulator said on Friday, a move that could potentially shake up pricing of the world’s largest commodity market.

Chang Depeng, a spokesman for the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), gave the launch date at a regular briefing in Beijing, confirming what two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters earlier on Friday.

The launch will mark the culmination of a years-long push by China to create Asia’s first oil futures benchmark, and is aimed at giving the world’s biggest oil importer more clout in pricing crude sold to Asia.

It will potentially give the Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE), which will operate the new contract, a share of the trillions of dollars each year in oil futures trading.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) and INE, which is part of the ShFE, declined to comment.

Asia has become the world’s biggest oil consuming region, and China hopes its own derivative crude contract will better reflect market conditions in the region.

The two most active oil futures contracts in the world are the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) CLc1 contract offered by the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), owned by CME Group, and the Brent LCOc1 contract offered by the Intercontinental Exchange from London.

WTI futures are an important component of physical oil prices in the Americas, while Brent plays a vital role for prices for Middle Eastern, European and Asian crude.

Most physical oil trades globally are hedged using those two crude derivatives. The creation of the yuan-denominated contract, which will be open to Chinese and overseas investors, was originally expected about six years ago.

However, it has run into delays as turmoil in China’s stock markets and other commodity futures raised concerns about its capacity to handle financial turbulence. – Reuters.

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