Investopedia / Daniel Fishel

What Was e-CBOT?

E-CBOT was an electronic trading platform operated by the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). It was primarily used by traders wishing to speculate and hedge against risks in the commodity futures and financial derivatives markets. When the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) bought the CBOT, e-CBOT was rolled into CME's electronic trading platform, Globex. As such, e-CBOT no longer exists.

Key Takeaways

  • E-CBOT was the electronic trading platform operated by the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) to trade financial derivatives.
  • It replaced the physical trading pits that used to be staffed by human traders.
  • E-CBOT brought together hedgers and speculators in the commodity futures and financial derivatives markets.
  • When the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) bought the CBOT, it rolled e-CBOT into its own electronic trading platform, Globex, resulting in the closure of e-CBOT.

Understanding e-CBOT

E-CBOT was popular among traders in the futures markets who wished to transact in commodities such as precious metals, agricultural goods, and energy products. For these traders, commodity futures could be and still are a convenient way to lock in the supply of a particular good at a manageable price in order to protect themselves against the risk of costly fluctuations in the commodities markets.

By way of example, a commercial bakery might purchase wheat futures in order to guarantee an affordable supply of wheat over the next year. If the price of wheat rises during the year, the bakery can exercise its futures contract and take delivery of wheat at the predetermined price. On the other hand, if wheat prices fall, then the bakery is free to purchase wheat at a lower cost on the spot market.

In other cases, traders used e-CBOT and other futures markets to speculate on commodity prices. For instance, a trader without a direct need for oil might nonetheless purchase oil futures based on the anticipation that oil prices will rise during the investment term, perhaps due to factors such as geopolitical events or an anticipated decline in production volumes. From the perspective of other market participants, these speculators can increase overall market efficiency by contributing additional liquidity to the marketplace.

In addition to commodity futures contracts, e-CBOT was also used to trade other financial derivatives, such as interest rate swaps, index futures, and options. These products can be useful not only as a means of speculating on market prices but also as a way for investors to hedge their exposure to various market risks.

For example, an investor with a large position in a particular company might purchase put options in that company so that they can sell that company's shares at a relatively high price in the event that its value declines significantly.

Electronic Trading and e-CBOT

The history of the CBOT dates back to 1848, at which time all of its trading was done using the conventional method of physical trading floors, also known as "pits." In these trading floors, human brokers would buy and sell using the "open outcry" method, which involved manually calling out the price at which you are willing to buy or sell a particular security.

Similar to an auction process, traders would use various signals as shorthand for different kinds of orders. For instance, if a trader's palm was held with its face out, this would signal a desire to sell a particular security. If the palm was facing inward, this would signal a desire to buy. Various other signals were also used to indicate the quantity and price of the buy or sell order.

With the advent of the Internet and electronic trading, trading in the pits has become obsolete. The bulk of financial trading moved onto computers, allowing for faster and more accurate trading. E-CBOT was one of those electronic trading platforms.

Today, most daily trading is completed by way of automated systems, in which the process of matching buyers and sellers is handled automatically and almost instantaneously by advanced computerized systems.

In 2007, the CME bought CBOT. CBOT still exists as an exchange under the CME Group, as does NYMEX and COMEX. CME's electronic trading platform is Globex, which was the first electronic trading platform for futures and options trading. All trading activity that occurred on e-CBOT eventually moved to Globex.

Is the Chicago Board of Trade Closed?

No, the Chicago Board of Trade is not closed. It was bought by the CME in 2007 and still operates as an exchange. The CBOT trades a variety of futures and options, including Treasury options, swap futures, equity futures, and agriculture futures.

Does Pit Trading Still Exist?

Pit trading does still exist on very few exchanges as electronic trading has made pit trading obsolete. The London Stock Exchange, the Milan Stock Exchange, and the Toronto Stock Exchange were some of the earliest exchanges to move to be fully electronic. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the CME still have pit traders.

Who Regulates the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME)?

The CME is regulated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CFTC is the main regulator for futures and options.

Article Sources
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  1. Britannica. "Chicago Board of Trade." Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.

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