IN BRIEF : Philadelphia Trades Before Dawn

<i> From Times wire services </i>

Trusting that money never sleeps, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange today launched a historic pre-dawn trading session for foreign currency options and futures.

Senior exchange officials rang the opening bell at 4:30 a.m. EST for excited but bleary-eyed traders. Moments later, the session completed its first trade--650 option contracts for West German marks.

Although the exchange moved up the start of trading to attract more European business by overlapping with morning hours there, officials acknowledged the grueling nature of the new hours.


“It requires a certain amount of insanity,” exchange President Nicholas Giordano said of the pre-dawn trading, the first-ever by a U.S. exchange.

Volume for the debut session totaled 12,000 currency option contracts, more than double the exchange’s initial target of 5,000 contracts and twice the session’s estimated break-even point. The exchange’s daytime volume averaged about 40,000 contracts a session in 1988.

Daytime trading in Philadelphia previously started at 8 a.m. EST. The session ends at 2:30 p.m. EST, followed by a night session from 6 to 10 p.m. EST that began in September, 1987, to attract Asian business.

The new morning session gives Philadelphia the longest trading day of any world exchange, and the exchange has said it will consider longer nighttime hours if the early-morning trading succeeds.