TOCOM delays new trading system to May 2009

TOKYO, April 16 (Reuters) - The Tokyo Commodity Exchange will delay the launch of its new trading system by about one month to May 7, 2009 to ensure a smooth start of the new platform, TOCOM officials said on Wednesday.

The exchange also said it had approved TOCOM membership for Idemitsu Kosan Co 5019.T, Japan's third-biggest oil refiner.

The delay to the start of the new system meant that an extension of trading hours to 11 p.m. (1400 GMT) would be delayed from a previous schedule of March 2009 and would also delay the start of round-the-clock trade to around November 2009 from September 2009, an official said.

Japan’s top commodities bourse hopes to boost falling turnover by extending trading hours and upgrading its trading systems. It extended trading by two hours a day to 5:30 p.m. (0830 GMT) from January.

The government has been exploring ways for Japanese commodity exchanges to increase their competitiveness and make them more attractive to professional participants.

“We’ve been told by the vendors that the original schedule was very tight and would be risky, so we are delaying the start by about one to one-and-a-half months,” TOCOM Chairman Masaaki Nangaku told a news conference.

Idemitsu becomes the fourth oil refiner to join the exchange, following Nippon Oil Corp's 5001.T membership in December.

Nangaku said Idemitsu’s entry into the market will help boost confidence of the overall commodities market and will help to enhance transparency in the market.

In October, TOCOM relaxed regulations on price and position limits, making the market more convenient to hedge exposure in physical crude oil. (Reporting by Chikafumi Hodo; Editing by Rodney Joyce)