01.31.2017
By Rob Daly

Nasdaq to Exit Rates

Global exchange operator Nasdaq plans to shutter its London-based Nasdaq NLX rates market as part of restructuring its fixed income business.

“We have decided to end the NLX European rates initiative and will be working with our clients and partners to facilitate an orderly wind-down of open positions,” said Nasdaq president and CEO Adena Friedman during her first earning call.

The marketplace had problems gaining traction within the rates industry since Nasdaq launched it in 2013.

Adena Friedman, Nasdaq

“We topped out at about 100,000 open-interest contracts on the platform, and that was before last year,” said Friedman. “Last year we did not top 50,000 contracts in open interest. It was time to say with the NLX: we don’t see a path to long-term success.”

One mitigating factor for the market’s lackluster momentum was the significant delay of its clearing partner, LCH.Clearnet, to deliver support for cross-margining across the short- and long ends, according to Friedman.

The clearinghouse only offered support for cross-margining across the short end at the beginning of 2016, she said. “The long end still has not arrived, and they are delaying it even further.”

It is about time that Nasdaq cut the NLX cord, said Alex Kramm, executive director, senior equity research analyst at UBS Investment Bank, on the call. “Some investors probably thought that [Nasdaq] should have done that a long time ago.”

In other fixed-income news, Nasdaq looks to further its presence in the US Treasuries market with the planned support of trading in off-the-run contracts later this year.

The trading-venue operator also plans to introduce critical order types for fixed-income market sometime in the first half of the year as well as offering dealers a more direct connection to their clients via Nasdaq interfaces and network offerings, according to Freidman.

“There are ways that we are looking at continuing to build the business that we have and would expect that as we go through the year, we will see the benefit of that,” she added.

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