Release: #4421-00
For Release:††††† July 13, 2000


Washington DC- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (Commission) announced today that it has approved the application of the Merchantsí Exchange of St. Louis (MESL) for designation as a contract market for the computer-based trading of deliverable Illinois Waterway and St. Louis Harbor barge freight futures contracts. The Board of Trade Clearing Corporation (BOTCC) will provide all clearing and settlement services. The National Futures Association (NFA) will perform self-regulatory functions on behalf of MESL, including investigating and prosecuting trade practice violations. NFA also will work with MESL in conducting market surveillance and financial surveillance. MESL will operate as a Missouri for-profit limited liability company.

MESLís two contracts will trade from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., central time, on each business day. All MESL trading will be conducted through Trading Privilege Holders and their authorized representatives, Authorized Traders. Trading Privilege Holders must either be clearing members, have a clearing arrangement with a clearing member, or have an account with a firm that has a relationship with a clearing member. Only BOTCC clearing members are eligible to act as MESL clearing members. MESLís trading system, the MESL System, is based on a trading system that is used by European equities and futures exchanges, but has been modified to provide a trading and reporting environment suitable for U.S. futures trading. The MESL System would anonymously match orders based on a price and time priority trade-matching algorithm that is very similar to the algorithms currently used for electronic trading at the Chicago Board of Trade (Project A), Chicago Mercantile Exchange (Globex), and the New York Mercantile Exchange (ACCESS).

Copies of memoranda prepared by the Commissionís Division of Trading and Markets and Division of Economic Analysis, Commission Orders, and the Commissionís approval letter may be obtained by contacting the Commissionís Office of the Secretariat, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20581, (202) 418-5100.