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London Metal Exchange’s historic “ring” reopens, as firms return to offices

·1-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Open outcry trading returned to the City on Monday as brokers resumed bellowing and bartering to set benchmark prices at the London Metal Exchange’s historic “ring”.

The return was seen as symbolic of life returning to the Square Mile, but significant changes introduced during the 19th century trading floor’s 18-month pandemic closure will remain in place.

As part of a compromise deal to balance the ring’s traditional role with modernisation of other exchanges, the LME announced in June that the traders will now only be responsible for setting “official” prices of metals like aluminium and copper at around lunchtime.

Closing prices will stay electronic, which is expected to lead to a sharp reduction in the amount of trading that takes place on the floor.

Concerns also remain about the threat of Covid-19: while testing and ventilation measures have been implemented to reduce the possibility of spread, the nature of the frenetic activity means it remains “high risk”.

CEO Matthew Chamberlain said: “Our ability to mitigate Covid risk is limited. You can’t tell these traders to keep their voices down, or wear a face mask or put them in a Perspex box. It would fly against the way they operate.”

The reopening comes in a week when it is anticipated more people will return to City and West End offices.

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