Enhanced trading environment

After the conflict in the heart of Europe broke out at the end of February 2022, the widespread damage was visible in every segment of the economy and futures markets were no exception. Volatility shot through the roof, the cost of trading jumped to elevated levels and daily volumes suffered almost immeasurably. A prime example of the nightmare the markets were facing more than a year ago is provided by CME Group flagship crude oil contract, WTI. Its average daily volume (ADV) plunged from 1.34 million contracts in February 2022 to 769,000 contacts three months later. Volatility spiked from 25% to 90%, the contract became unprecedentedly illiquid.

However, market players quickly adapted to the new environment. The popularity of the WTI Micro and E-mini contracts that had been on the rise regardless increased meaningfully as displayed on the chart above. Whilst the Micro contract had 7% of WTI market pre-conflict, its share tripled by March. Open interest (OI) increased sixfold between February 2022 and October 2022.

Similar tendency is observed on the WTI E-mini contract and this trend seems to be reversing lately. Benchmark WTI futures ADV and OI is on the rise again, monthly ADV now frequently breaks above the 900,000 contracts barrier, as volatility moderates. This reversal implies that the pre-war status quo is being re-established whilst smaller investors will continue to favour the E-mini and the Micro contracts as more suitable tools to participate in the Crude Oil futures market.

Stay in the know

Keep up with the crude oil markets. Get biweekly analysis from PVM, the leading oil instrument broker – courtesy of CME Group.

All examples in this report are hypothetical interpretations of situations and are used for explanation purposes only. The views in this report reflect solely those of the author and not necessarily those of CME Group or its affiliated institutions. This report and the information herein should not be considered investment advice or the results of actual market experience.

CME Group is the world’s leading derivatives marketplace. The company is comprised of four Designated Contract Markets (DCMs). 
Further information on each exchange's rules and product listings can be found by clicking on the links to CME, CBOT, NYMEX and COMEX.

© 2024 CME Group Inc. All rights reserved.