ICE expands London gold contract ahead of LME's rival offering

Gold bullion is displayed at Hatton Garden Metals precious metal dealers in London, Britain July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) - Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) has substantially expanded the range of dates that its London gold futures contract can be traded, as it seeks to beat rival exchanges to gain a foothold in the city’s $5 trillion-a-year bullion market.

ICE said that from May 22 its daily futures contract could be traded on dates up to three months into the future. Previously it could be traded only two days ahead of settlement.

“This extension of the trading curve will provide the ability to trade a Gold Daily futures contract pricing delivery on each Eligible Contract Date three calendar months into the future,” the exchange said in a market notice.

ICE launched its London gold contract in January and has moved to promote it ahead of the launch in July of a rival suite of gold and silver contracts by the London Metal Exchange.

ICE has used its contract to clear London’s gold price benchmark auction, which it administers, but outside that process the contract has barely traded.

The LME, ICE and CME Group are all launching London gold contracts this year, betting that tightening regulation will force banks to stop trading gold bilaterally and use more transparent, centrally-cleared exchanges instead.

Reporting by Peter Hobson, editing by David Evans