* New trading cycle revives morning pause in grain markets
* Pause called "biscuit break" by some traders
* No ICE corn contracts trade during Board of Trade break
By Tom Polansek
CHICAGO, April 8 (Reuters) - A revived pause in the Chicago
Board of Trade's grain trading schedule did little to invigorate
volume on Monday as the historic exchange launched a shorter
cycle for its agricultural markets.
Known as the "biscuit break" by some traders, the pause
halts trading for 45 minutes each weekday morning and is part of
a larger reduction in trading hours by the Board of Trade to a
The exchange, owned by CME Group Inc, cut trading of
futures and options for crops like wheat, corn and soybeans from
21 hours after a move last year to extend activity hurt
The exchange had a 2-hour-15-minute pause and a 17-hour
trading day in place before it added hours last year.
Traders say a morning pause helps volume by gathering
participants for the start of a new day and creating a sense of
excitement in the markets.
However, once trading resumed after the break on Monday,
"there wasn't a lot going on," said Mark Gavril, president of
MSG Capital and a market maker in soybean options.
Gavril attributed the slow start to a lack of fresh news to
trade on, saying "it's just a slow day overall."
The Board of Trade in May increased trading from 17 hours
per session in response to a challenge from arch-rival
IntercontinentalExchange, which launched electronic
trading on a 22-hour basis.
Traders pushed the Board of Trade to shorten its schedule
after ICE failed to attract much business. They complained the
longer cycle spread out volume and reduced liquidity.
Under the new schedule, electronic trading runs from 7:00
p.m. CDT (2400 GMT) to 7:45 a.m. CDT (12:45 GMT) Sunday to
Friday. Trading then stops until 8:30 a.m. CDT (1330 GMT) before
resuming electronically and in Chicago's open-outcry pits until
1:15 p.m CDT (1815 GMT).
Under the previous schedule, electronic trading ran
continuously from 5 p.m. to 2 p.m. CDT Sunday to Friday.
Data show 565 lots of corn traded hands in the minute after
the start of the day session at 8:30 a.m., compared to 71 lots
in the last minute of overnight session.
Monday's sluggish start fueled griping among traders, some
of whom had hoped the Board of Trade would reinstate the
2-hour-15-minute morning break and 9:30 a.m. CDT (1430 GMT)
opening that existed before the trading extension last year.
"We opened up and there really wasn't much there at 8:30,"
said P.J. Quaid, an independent broker in the corn options pit.
"Some people are like, 'What are we doing here?'"
"In the long run, it's going to be better," he said. "You
can't throw in the towel after the first day."
Activity perked up closer to 9:30 a.m. CDT, when 2,480
contracts of corn traded.
The Board of Trade has said the new schedule is a compromise
among its diverse group of customers, who include farmers,
exporters and hedge funds around the world.
A "good number" of traders surveyed by the Board of Trade
wanted a pause of 2 hours and 15 minutes, according to a memo
from the exchange.
Independent market makers and open-outcry traders wanted a
shorter break, while some country elevators opposed any break
because they wanted access to the market during the morning, the
Exchange executives were "likely elated" because rival ICE
did not trade any corn contracts during the 45-minute break on
Monday, said Rich Feltes, vice president of research for R.J.
A CME spokesman did not immediately have a comment.