The Oil World's Getting Smaller

| About: CME Group (CME)

By Brad Zigler

The world's getting smaller by the minute. Stateside commodity bulls awoke to news of China's $586 billion economic stimulus package calling for tax cuts, more accommodative credit policies, and increased government subsidies and spending. These measures, it's hoped, will restoke the fires in the Chinese economy that have recently cooled.

At first blush, Chinese government intervention looked like it would bolster demand for commodities. And it may. The Continuous Commodity Index - the current version of the venerable Commodity Research Bureau Index - in fact, popped up 1.5%. COMEX copper jumped 8.4% higher to $1.84 basis December, while NYMEX December crude oil rose 3.8% to $63.40.

Another making-the-world-smaller development in the crude oil market was revealed this morning when the CME Group (NASDAQ:CME) - the corporate parent of The Chicago and New York Mercantile Exchanges - announced that futures listed on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) will soon begin trading on CME's Globex electronic platform. DME trades physically and financially settled contracts on Oman crude oil as well as a financially settled contract on Brent crude.

The Globex listing is an outgrowth of a long-standing relationship between DME and NYMEX. NYMEX has cleared DME trades since the Mideast bourse commenced operations last year. NYMEX and its clearing operation were acquired by CME in 2008.

DME's Oman contract represents a benchmark for Mideast "sour" crudes, which are considerably more heavy and sulphur laden than West Texas Intermediate - the basis for NYMEX oil contracts - and the Intercontinental Exchange's Brent specification. The pricing differential between sweet and sour grades can be volatile, making the Western contracts inadequate hedging tools for producers and users of Mideast oil.

With the addition of the DME futures, three world benchmark oil contracts will now trade on a single platform, facilitating hedge and arbitrage opportunities.

Just what the oil market needs now: one-stop shopping.