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>CBOE Futures Exchange: Trading Volume Tops One Million for First Time


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Thank you QE2!!!

Trading Volume Tops One Million Contracts for the First Time at CBOE Futures Exchange

http://etfdailynews.com/blog/2011/04/03/trading-volume-tops-one-million-contracts-for-the-first-time-at-cboe-futures-exchange/

April 4, 2011
The CBOE Futures Exchange, LLC (CFE) today announced that March 2011 was the most active trading month in CFE history as volume surpassed the one-million-contracts milestone for the first time ever.  The 1,066,367 contracts that changed hands during March was a new all-time high and the third consecutive record month at CFE, following the previous highs of 789,734 contracts in February and 778,157 contracts in January.  When including November 2010’s volume of 751,481 contracts, the four busiest months in CFE history have occurred during the last five months.  
March 2011 volume exceeded the 217,429 contracts traded in March 2010 by 390 percent.  March 2011 was the most active month of March on record at CFE and marked the eighteenth consecutive month in which total volume registered an increase when comparing year-over-year trading activity.
Average daily volume (ADV) of 46,363 contracts during March 2011, which was also a new record, topped the March 2010 ADV of 9,453 contracts by 390 percent.  When compared to 41,565 contracts per day during February 2011, which was the previous high, ADV in March rose 12 percent.  This was the second consecutive month in which CFE daily volume averaged over 40,000 contracts, a first for CFE.  
CBOE FUTURES EXCHANGE VOLUME SUMMARY
Current Month
Year-To-Date
March
2011
March
2010
%
Chg
Feb.
2011
%

Chg
March
2011
March
2010
%
Chg
Trad
-ing
Days
23 23 19 62 61
Total 
CFE
1,066,367 217,429 +390 789,734 +35 2,634,258 626,690 +320
Total 
CFE
ADV
46,363 9,453 +390 41,565 +12 42,488 10,274 +314
On Tuesday, March 15, Wednesday, March 16 and Friday, March 11, CFE experienced the three busiest single days in its history when 97,385, 97,254 and 77,619 contracts traded, respectively.  CFE also set back-to-back weekly volume records during the month: a total of 282,287 contracts traded March 7 through 11, which was then surpassed when a total of 334,692 contracts traded March 14 through 18.  Additionally, exchange open interest reached a new high of 210,495 contracts on Wednesday, March 16.    
Total trading volume for the first quarter of 2011 was 2,634,258 contracts, which now ranks as the busiest quarter in CFE history.  The trading volume during the first three months of 2011 surpassed the volume of 1,787,035 contracts during the previous quarter (4Q 2010) and the 626,690 contracts during the first three months of 2010 (1Q 2010) by 47 percent and 320 percent, respectively.  ADV during the quarter was 42,488 contracts, compared with 27,922 contracts in the fourth quarter of 2010 and the 10,274 contracts in the first quarter of 2010.  
March 2011 volume in VIX futures, based on the CBOE Volatility Index (ticker VX), totaled a new record of 1,065,374 contracts, exceeding the 216,800 contracts traded last March by 391 percent and the 788,908 contracts in February 2011, which was the previous high, by 35 percent.  March was the first month ever for VIX futures volume to surpass the one-million-contracts milestone.  
Average daily volume in VIX futures also reached a new high of 46,320 contracts during March.  This ADV surpassed the 9,426 contracts per day a year ago and topped the 41,521 contracts per day in February 2011 by 12 percent.  VIX futures experienced the top three most active single trading days in CFE history during the month:  97,337 contracts on Tuesday, March 15; 97,113 contracts on Wednesday, March 16; and 77,556 contracts on Friday, March 11.    
CFE currently offers futures on six different contracts, including: the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), Weekly options on VIX futures (VOW), CBOE mini-VIX (VM), CBOE Gold ETF Volatility Index (GVZ), CBOE S&P 500 3-Month Variance (VT) and CBOE S&P 500 12-Month Variance (VA).  
On March 25, CFE launched security futures on the CBOE Gold ETF Volatility Index (GVZ), further expanding tradable CFE volatility products into a new asset class.  The calculation of the CBOE Gold ETF Volatility Index (“Gold VIX”) is based on the well-known CBOE VIX methodology applied to options on the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE:GLD).  The Gold VIX is an up-to-the-minute market estimate of the expected 30-day volatility of GLD, calculated using real-time bid/ask quotes of GLD options that are listed on CBOE.  For more information on CBOE Gold ETF Volatility Index futures and options, see http://www.cboe.com/GVZ.
CFE, a wholly owned subsidiary of CBOE Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBOE), offers an all-electronic, open-access market model, with traders providing liquidity and making markets.  CFE trades are cleared by the AAA-rated Options Clearing Corporation (OCC). CBOE Futures Exchange is regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).  
More information on CFE and its products, including contract specifications, can be found at: http://cfe.cboe.com/.  
CBOE®, Chicago Board Options Exchange®, CFE®, CBOE Volatility Index® and VIX® are registered trademarks, and CBOE Futures Exchange(SM) , GVZ(SM) and Weeklys(SM) are servicemarks of Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated (CBOE).  Standard & Poor’s®, S&P® and S&P 500® are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services, LLC,. and have been licensed for use by CBOE.  
SOURCE CBOE Futures Exchange, LLC


>Venezuela No Longer to Certify Oil Export and Production Numbers


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21st century socialism at work.  From The Devil’s Excrement

Venezuela No Longer to Certify Oil Export and Production Numbers

March 30, 2011

Mas bien, Sin Rumbo

Just when Venezuela needs to send positive signals to world markets, as it intends to sell more and more debt internationally, the Venezuelan Government and PDVSA do exactly the opposite and decide to cancel the contract with the independent auditor Inspectorate that was hired two years ago to try to convince the world that Venezuela’s production and export numbers as reported by OPEC and the IEA are wrong. Both of these institutions have been reporting that Venezuela’s official oil numbers are significantly above those obtained by them from their independent analysis.

Neither PDVSA nor the Ministry of Energy and Oil gave much of an explanation for the cancellation of the contract. The auditing company is closing its offices in Venezuela.
What this will do is create further uncertainties in the country’s numbers which will not aid in reducing the so called credit risk of Venezuela at a time that the country needs to issue more and more debt. This means that issuance of the country’s debt will be more costly that the country’s numbers justify. Last week, Knight Securities suggested that the country’s handling of official news and statistics and the lack of a clear spokesman for the country on financial matters is making it more expensive for the country to issue debt. In a report entitled “The Monk’s exorcism boosts our faith in Venezuela” the company suggests it costs Venezuela 200 to 300 bps because of the way information is managed by Minister Giordani.
In the same report, PDVSA said that exports in February were 16% lower than those in January and this week international reserves at the Venezuelan Central Bank dropped to their lowest level since 2007, despite the Venezuelan oil basket averaging over US$ 100 per barrel last week.

Venezuela No Longer to Certify Oil Export and Production Numbers « The Devil’s Excrement

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>Canadian Miners Don’t Love the London Stock Exchange – Deal Journal – WSJ


>Canadian Miners Don’t Love the London Stock Exchange
– Deal Journal – WSJ:
“By Phred Dvorak and Edward Welsch

When the London Stock Exchange Group Ltd. announced its proposed takeover of Toronto’s bourse, one of the supposed benefits was access–for Toronto-listed firms–to London’s deep pools of capital.

EPA/Adrian Bradshaw

That’s a topic dear to the hearts of roughly 1,500 cash-hungry start-up miners that populate the Toronto bourse and its venture affiliate. Those “junior miners”–and their constant need for money to drill, test and explore — have made the Toronto Stock Exchange, operated by TMX Group Inc., the mining-finance market of choice.

So what do those juniors think about the proposed deal? Not much, according to some of the attendees Deal Journal interviewed at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto, the world’s largest gathering of small-cap miners.

Kerry Knoll, chairman of Canada Lithium Corp., with some $140 million in market cap, looked into listing on the LSE’s AIM market for smaller firms a few years ago and found it a much more expensive proposition than going public on the Toronto bourse. If London controlled the Toronto exchanges as well, the combined entity could raise the cost of listing in Canada, Knoll worries: “I would fear they’d bring that (higher-cost model) here and really put a crimp in our incubator.”

LSE and TMX executives selling the deal in recent weeks have said the Toronto exchange would remain Canadian-operated and regulated, and would benefit capital-seeking firms by offering truly global scale.

But David McPherson, president of Pure Nickel Inc., at some $14 million market cap, said he’d worry the interests of small, Canadian firms like his may get lost in a bigger exchange.

Pure Nickel raised money on the Toronto Venture Exchange, TSE’s junior market, in 2007 to buy land. It moved up to Toronto’s big board later that year. It’s already raised money from London institutional investors, but it doesn’t expect any additional U.K. retail-investment opportunities from a TSX-LSE combination.

“All I see is the risk that we could become insignificant in a much larger exchange,” he said.

But there are some fans, including Graham Downs, the CEO of ATAC Resources Ltd., market cap north of $600 million, thanks in part to a new discovery of gold in the Yukon.

“There’s a big resource component of the London Stock Exchange, but they are so focused on Africa and all these other places that they know,” Downs says. “They don’t have a lot of access to us, so I think it’ll open more pockets [of money] to Canadian ventures.”

Even though money may initially flow more toward London than Canada while the market finds its equilibrium, Downs says, in the end there will be a bigger pool of capital available to the best companies.

“If you’ve got good projects, if you’ve got a quality team, the money will find you,” he says.

Canadian Miners Don’t Love the London Stock Exchange – Deal Journal – WSJ

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>Openness can help lift the curse of resources


>Openness can help lift the curse of resources
By George Soros
FT.com

Published: March 3 2011 22:13 | Last updated: March 3 2011 22:13

The natural resources sector has the potential to generate billions of dollars in revenues that can be used for poverty reduction and sound investment. For decades, however, management secrecy has allowed corruption to thrive in countries such as Angola, Cambodia, and Guinea. According to Nigeria’s own corruption agency, up to $400bn of oil money has been stolen or wasted over the past 50 years. And in Libya, in particular, we now see a population rising against rulers whose control has been financed by the immense revenues they manage, and mismanage, in secret.

Ending this problem and letting new democracies flourish will, of course, not be easy. The resource curse undermines the investment climate, raises costs for companies, threatens energy and mineral security, and consigns millions of citizens in resource-rich countries to poverty. But evidence suggests that transparency in extractive industries can play an important role.

In 2002, I helped to launch the Publish What You Pay coalition, a global network of civil society organisations that has advocated for better management of oil, gas and mining revenues, and worked to ensure monies received are invested in schools, hospitals and poverty reduction. The coalition recruits oil companies, which then pledge to reveal what they pay to the governments and leaders of the states in which they operate, allowing them to be held accountable. In Liberia, this approach has seen moves towards new transparency standards, including openness on payments and contract terms – amazing progress in a country better known for former president Charles Taylor’s macabre violence and blood diamonds.

There are further positive signs from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an alliance to improve standards of transparency on a voluntary basis. Azerbaijan’s credit rating improved in part because it played a constructive role in the initiative. This week, after the first democratically held elections in its history, Guinea rejoined the initiative too, because its leaders know that with EITI membership comes a better investment climate.

Now, governments that regulate stock markets are going one necessary and long-awaited step further, in establishing mandatory listing rules. In July 2010, the US passed the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires all oil, mining and gas companies registered in the US to report payments to foreign governments, both by country and by project. Companies as diverse as PetroChina, BHP Billiton and BP will have to comply. Similarly, Hong Kong recently improved the disclosure of its companies’ payments as a condition of listing on its exchange.

The French and UK governments have also indicated support for new European oil and mining rules. EU revenue transparency legislation could build on US plans to move towards a new global transparency standard. The London Stock Exchange is one of the world’s most important financial markets, hosting more than £1,000bn worth of oil, gas and mining capital. It should follow others’ lead and change its rules too.

All of these measures hold great promise. Africa is the new frontier for investors in the natural resources sector, holding a 10th of the world’s oil reserves, 40 per cent of its gold and significant reserves of other minerals vital for modern industrial economies. The Middle East, meanwhile, could soon develop a string of prosperous democracies. Those promoting greater transparency in the natural resources industries are helping to reinforce powerful historical forces, which will unlock transformational sums of money to improve the lives of millions of people in some of the most fragile countries in the world.

The writer is chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC and founder of the Open Society Foundations

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2011. 
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Seeking cash, Chavez looks to sell Citgo


Market Commentary and Intraday News

pre { white-space: pre-wrap; word-wrap: break-word; }

Seeking cash, Chavez looks to sell Citgo

2 hours, 1 minute ago

By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER
Associated Press
(AP:CARACAS, Venezuela) President Hugo Chavez is promising to build new public housing complexes, boost social programs and renovate the long-neglected Caracas subway _ and he needs money.

The ambitious plans will squeeze Venezuela’s coffers at a time when oil earnings have slipped and Chavez is sending his foreign allies generous amounts of crude on credit. So he has raised a possibility that once seemed remote: selling off Venezuela’s U.S.-based oil company, Citgo Petroleum Corp.

For Chavez, it’s an idea driven both by hard-money realities and by politics.

Getting rid of the company and its refineries in the U.S. would give Chavez billions of dollars for domestic spending as he approaches his 2012 re-election bid and seeks to remedy problems including an acute shortage of affordable housing. A sale would also fit with the leftist leader’s interest in distancing Venezuela from the U.S. while building stronger ties with allies such as Russia, China and Iran.

Citgo has delivered oil to Venezuela’s No. 1 client for two decades, but judging by Chavez’s complaints about Citgo not turning a profit, he seems more than ready to sell it, if a buyer can be found.

“Citgo is a bad business, and we haven’t been able to get out of it,” Chavez said in a televised speech late last month. He ordered his oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, to look at options for selling off the state oil company’s assets in the United States.

Chavez says the Houston-based company could be worth at least $10 billion, but analysts say it would likely fetch much less _ perhaps half that _ and it might be hard to find a buyer in a difficult economic climate.

The government’s budget next year _ not counting the additional spending often approved by Chavez’s congressional allies _ is the equivalent of $47.5 billion, making the possible sale of Citgo a potential shot in the arm for the president’s efforts to shore up support.

Critics say that selling Citgo could endanger Venezuela’s long-term business interests since oil is the lifeblood of the economy and much of the earnings come from the U.S.

Chavez, meanwhile, has increasingly sold oil elsewhere under less profitable deals aimed at cementing relationships with friends abroad.

“It’s hard for rational observers to understand that (Chavez) would take oil away from U.S. clients that pay cash for Venezuelan oil, in order to supply countries that consider Venezuelan oil almost as a right or as a political gift,” said Gustavo Coronel, an energy consultant and former executive of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). “However, Chavez is no longer driven by economics but by ideology.”

If Chavez were to go ahead with a sale, Venezuela would likely seek to negotiate a supply contract to keep selling crude to U.S. refineries.

Even so, Venezuela’s oil exports to the U.S. have been declining while Chavez has sought to diversify the country’s markets, shipping more crude under preferential deals to allies including Belarus, Cuba and other Caribbean islands. Some buyers are granted low-interest loans, decreasing upfront revenue.

Oil shipments to the U.S. declined from 49 million barrels in February 1999, when Chavez took office, to 31.9 million barrels during the same month last year.

Venezuela’s overall oil output has also been declining due to lower OPEC quotas and _ experts say _ inadequate maintenance at some oil fields. While Venezuela says it produces about 3 million barrels of oil a day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates 2.2 million barrels a day in 2009, down about 190,000 barrels from 2008.

Coronel said that when Venezuela bought Citgo, it was a good deal. PDVSA purchased 50 percent of the company in 1986 from Southland Corp. for $290 million as part of a drive to have its own refineries and other facilities in its key markets, the U.S. and Latin America. The state oil company purchased the remaining 50 percent of Southland’s shares in Citgo in 1990 for $675 million.

Since then, Citgo has grown. It now operates three refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Illinois, and sells fuel through thousands of gas stations. Citgo has been used by Chavez to distribute discounted heating oil to poor American families in a high-profile program aimed at criticizing Washington’s approach to the needy.

Another motive for selling Citgo could be to reduce Venezuela’s exposure to U.S. court suits over Chavez’s expropriations of U.S. company assets.

U.S.-based Exxon Mobil Corp. has sought international arbitration to claim billions of dollars in compensation after it refused to accept the government’s terms for a 2007 nationalization of an oil project in which it had invested heavily.

Citgo, for its part, took a $201 million loss last year, and issued $3.5 billion in bonds this year as its profits plummeted. Profits were battered by lower world prices and a declining flow of heavy, sulfur-laden crude.

“I don’t think there would be much interest now” in buying Citgo, said Lou Pugliaresi, president of the Energy Policy Research Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. “But Chavez might find a buyer at the right price.”

None has publicly stepped forward yet. Exxon and other major U.S. refiners such as Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips might end up being interested in Citgo or some of its assets, said Guaicaipuro Lameda, a former PDVSA president and government critic.

“It has the potential to be a good business if it’s well managed,” Lameda said. “But it’s not being well managed, and that’s causing problems.”

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

INO.com News – Seeking cash, Chavez looks to sell Citgo

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Ecuador Country Analysis Brief EIA – August 2010


Ecuador Country Analysis Brief Released – August 2010

<http://www.eia.doe.gov/>  

Ecuador is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and one of Latin America’s largest oil exporters.  
 
For all the latest information on the energy situation in Ecuador see the updated Country Analysis Brief:
 
http://www.eia.gov/emeu/cabs/Ecuador/Background.html
 
Contact:
cabs@eia.gov
(202) 586-8800

Chavez Crackdown on Brokerage `Thieves’ Leaves Traders Jobless


Chavez Crackdown on Brokerage `Thieves’ Leaves Traders Jobless

Chavez crackdown leaves traders jobless
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Trader Jofmar Heredia was thrown out of work when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez shut the unregulated currency market in May and seized about 40 brokerages, accusing them of setting artificial rates, capital flight and money laundering.
Heredia, 31, said she’s worried she may never find a job at a bank again because of Chavez’s crackdown.
“I’m unemployed and leaving my resume in banks but no one is calling,” said Heredia, who worked at Proinversion Sociedad de Corretaje CA in Caracas. “A lot of my friends in brokerages taken over by the government have been let go.”
The brokerage business is in danger of becoming obsolete in this socialist nation, said Noris Aguirre, a director at the clearing firm Caja Venezolana de Valores. Since November, Venezuela’s securities regulator has taken control of about 35 percent of the 112 trading firms and closed four after they were blamed for the 27 percent drop in the bolivar through May 18. That may leave up to 2,500 without jobs even as Chavez says his biggest economic priority is preserving employment.
Chavez, a 55-year-old former paratrooper who’s been in power for 11 years, says the country doesn’t need such companies and accuses them of exploiting loopholes to become rich. The government banned investment instruments known as mutuos in February — which are akin to repurchase agreements, or repos — and prohibited brokers from trading in a new currency market established last month. Securities firms use repos to borrow money to finance positions in bonds and other securities.
Chavez Takes Control
In a speech on May 23 to supporters, Chavez said his country should eliminate brokerages.
“We’re going to respond strongly against these thieves that are trying to wash their hands now,” Chavez said. “There’s no economic reason for the weakening of the bolivar. It’s a huge fraud against the republic.”
The government took control of the country’s largest brokerage, Econoinvest Casa de Bolsa, after raiding it on May 24, arresting four directors and ordering it to cease operations for a week pending an investigation. Of the 420 workers at the company, 126 have resigned, according to the nation’s regulator. The directors are being held at the national intelligence service in Caracas awaiting final charges against them for illegally trading foreign currency and association with delinquency.
Authorities are investigating “irregularities” at Econoinvest and are trying to guarantee the investments of its 44,000 clients, the Finance Ministry said today in a statement.
No Opportunities
Rene Buroz, the lawyer for the directors, declined to comment, as did an Econoinvest public relations official, who asked not to be identified in accordance with company policy.
The government took control of Finalca Casa de Bolsa today for failing to prove the origin of funds and putting its clients’ investments at risk after a raid on June 2, according to a resolution published in the Official Gazette.
Nelson Venero, a 32 year-old accountant, lost his job at the end of May after working for five years in the brokerage industry. After securing a job at AVC Valores Sociedad de Corretaje and a pay raise with a dollar bonus in October, he said he was fired after the government seized the company in May.
“This limits operations so much for brokerages that I don’t see any opportunities for them,” Aguirre of Caja Venezolana de Valores, which helps manage bonds and equities owned by brokerage houses, said in an interview. “They’re allowed to buy and sell company shares, but all of the companies that traded on the stock market have now been nationalized.”
Nationalizations
Chavez nationalized Cia Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, the phone company known as Cantv, in 2007 to boost the state’s hold on the economy. The government has also taken over assets from Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, Ternium SA and Mexican cement maker Cemex SAB, which listed on the Caracas Stock Exchange.
The brokerage industry boomed between 2005 and 2010, growing 42 percent to more than 100 institutions, according to the securities regulator. Traders were hired to perform bond swaps as a means of obtaining dollars for companies that failed to receive government authorization to buy at the official exchange rate.
The bond trading set an implicit unregulated rate. That rate plunged to 8.2 per dollar on May 11, seven days before Chavez shut down that market.
‘Destined’
The central bank re-opened the market on June 9, setting the maximum rate and limiting the amount of dollars for purchase. The average rate is now about 5.3 bolivars per dollar. In addition, there are two official exchange rates of 2.6 bolivars per dollar and 4.3 per dollar for imports.
“This was destined to happen,” said Roberto Gonzalez, 39, a former partner at a Caracas-based brokerage who left the firm last year. He declined to identify the company.
Tomas Sanchez, president of the securities regulator known as CNV, said the number of brokerages will likely be cut to less than 20 and that most of the unemployed traders may be able to live off savings since they earned commissions in dollars.
“We know some workers will be affected by this situation but they enjoyed exorbitant benefits and have savings,” Sanchez said in an interview in Caracas on June 9. “Maybe the secretaries and couriers can be incorporated into the public banking system.”
‘Blackmail’
Heredia said that she wasn’t paid in dollars and received a commission of about 10 percent of the value of bolivar transactions.
Raul Maestres, a consultant at Korn/Ferry International, an executive search firm, said their offices in Caracas have been inundated with resumes.
“It’s not the best moment to find work,” Maestres said.
Venezuela’s unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent in May, from 7.7 percent a year earlier, as the economy slid into the first recession in seven years. Gross domestic product shrank 3.3 percent last year and will likely contract 2.5 percent this year, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey.
Brokers are “not going to blackmail us with the idea that this is going to hurt employment,” Ricardo Sanguino, the president of the congressional finance committee, said in an interview. “Many of them acted outside the law and created more problems than benefits.”
Venero, the unemployed accountant, said that he feels powerless to find work and that he may take a broker course in Panama, where Venezuelan banks have opened branches.
“I don’t think I’ll find work in the capital markets because they’ve been very hard hit,” he said in a phone interview. “A lot of friends are out of work.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Corina Rodriguez Pons in Caracas atcrpons@bloomberg.netDaniel Cancel in Caracas at dcancel@bloomberg.net.