Today’s Number: The Nikkei and Japan’s Growth

Those unfamiliar with the history of our industry may not know that Osaka, Japan is the birthplace of futures markets.  It was here in 1730 that the Dojima Rice Exchange created a path that has led to a global industry dedicated to helping investors and businesses of all kinds manage risk.

I was in Osaka last week to announce the launch of Dow Jones Industrial Average futures listed on the Osaka Securities Exchange (OSE). While there, I was reminded of the vibrancy and resilience of the Japanese economy that we’ve come to know over many decades.

Just 15 months after the Tohoku earthquake,  Japan’s economy is showing strong signs of growth, and in fact, grew faster than the United States, Britain and Germany in the first quarter this year.

It is this kind of resilience that first led CME to join with OSE 24 years ago to list the Nikkei 225 futures contract on our exchange. The Nikkei tracks Japan’s top 225 blue chip companies, and serves as a barometer for the Japanese economy, much the way the Dow Jones does in the U.S.

The contract gave the global futures community access to this critical benchmark index for the first time. And perhaps more importantly, it brought international recognition of Japan’s significant role in world economics and finance.

Since then, the contract has, with a few exceptions, continued to grow in volume year after year. That continues today with May average daily volume increasing 26 percent over May 2011.

While in Japan, we also announced that we’ll be listing a new e-mini Nikkei contract on Globex, our electronic trading platform, beginning this month.

This is beneficial to us because it helps expand our global presence. But it also reasserts our belief in OSE and in Japan as a place where growth will continue, and risks will need to be managed.




Scot Warren is the senior managing director of equity index products at CME Group.

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